Bench to be placed on Main Street to honour Wendy Clark

·3 min read

The family of Wendy Clark announced their ‘Drive Safe, Someone Loves You’ campaign has surpassed its goal.

Proceeds from the ‘Drive Safe, Someone Loves You’ key chain sales will go towards a scholarship for a Ridgetown District High School student this spring.

Funds were also planned to go towards purchasing a memorial bench to be placed downtown.

However, anonymous donors stepped up to pay for the bench, so all funds raised will go toward the scholarship fund.

“We have reached the first scholarship $500 goal for this year, and we will continue saving for next year’s scholarship,” said Rachel Mattsson, daughter of Mrs. Clark.

Students at RDHS are invited to take part in an essay contest to receive the $500 scholarship. The essay is based on sober driving and the actions a student would take if they were ever in the situation of being a passenger in a vehicle driven by an impaired or a distracted driver.

“We’re hoping to have kids write an essay based on, ‘if you were in the passenger seat of a car and the driver was intoxicated or impaired by drugs or alcohol, or if the driver was driving unsafe, such as texting, how would they deal with the situation so their peers can learn from that,” Mattsson said.

Details are still being finalized with RDHS to award the scholarship this school year and to make the essay contest an annual event.

Mattsson said the kind donations from people who wish to remain anonymous would pay the entire cost of the bench.

The bench will be placed in front of the River Side Ice Cream shop when it opens for the season on May 2.

Mattsson approached downtown merchants, and Lisa and Jim Warnock, owners of the ice cream shop, jumped at the opportunity to have the bench placed in front of their store.

“They said ‘yes’ immediately. They were very happy,” Mattsson said. “I’m so excited that soon we’ll be able to sit on Mom’s bench and enjoy an ice cream.”

The key chains honour the memory of Wendy Clark, a 66-year-old Morpeth native, who lost her life after being struck by a distracted driver on Main St. last October. She had just stepped out of her vehicle and was about to cross the street to go to a pharmacy when she was struck on the afternoon of Oct. 19, 2022. She died two days later in Windsor Hospital.

The driver fled the scene, but thanks to witness statements and surveillance video, Chatham-Kent Police located and arrested a 38-year-old Ridgetown man, who was charged with failing to remain at a collision resulting in bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and two related Highway Traffic Act offences.

The specially designed key chains include an inscription, ‘Drive Safe, Someone Loves You,’ and the initials’ WC’ inside a heart.

The special-designed key chains are available at the Ridgetown Independent, two locations in Thamesville, at Laurie Clark Design, 9 Victoria St., and Canter Lope, 69 London Road, as well as Reride, north of Dresden on Chatham-Kent Road 21.

The family is asking for a minimum $5 donation per key chain.

Michael Bennett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News