Fatal motorcycle crash in Saanich, B.C., could have been prevented, residents say

Mary Quayle heard a car screech and a loud bang at about 12 p.m. Monday at an intersection near her home in Saanich, B.C.

"I recognized the bang and went running to see if I could help," she said.

At the intersection of Cumberland and Union roads, she found a young man lying on the ground a fair distance from the motorcycle he was riding. Many of the neighbours were running toward the scene while dialling emergency services.

Quayle said a neighbour was directed over the phone to perform chest compressions on the man. Emergency responders arrived minutes later and confirmed the motorcyclist was dead.

While the man's identity has not been released, Saanich police say they're investigating the collision between the motorcyclist and a driver who is reported to be a student at nearby Reynolds Secondary School, according to the school's principal. 

Resident Frank Nezil was visibly shaken Tuesday morning as he walked around the area to "pay his respects." He said the victim was a close friend of his son's, and was "like a family member in our household." 

He wouldn't identify the victim, but said the young man was an "extraordinary character," who did "everything from musical theatre, to jiu jitsu, to baking pies."

Traffic a long-standing issue

Neighbourhood residents say the fatality could have been prevented with safety measures they've been requesting for years. 

There are stop signs for traffic travelling on Cumberland Road, but no stop signs for traffic travelling on Union Road. 

Craig Fraser has lived a few doors down from the intersection since 2016. He said he was immediately struck by all the signs telling drivers to "slow down because children are playing" when he moved into the neighbourhood

He soon learned there was a petition circulated in 2001 to place a four-way stop at the intersection.

"So literally nothing has been done," he said. "If you put a four-way stop there, it's the most cost-effective for the city."

Adam van der Zwan/CBC

Fraser, who has a seven-year-old, is especially worried about the children in the area. He said vehicles go so fast he can often "see the body of a vehicle lift" as it crests the top of the hill just north of the intersection.

Lisa Sinclaire lives at the intersection and said drivers routinely race through.

At the same intersection two weeks ago, a near-collision occurred between a vehicle and a motorcycle that left the motorcyclist injured.

"You can't ignore a problem when there are fatalities," Sinclaire said, adding the accident has devastated the community. "Hopefully it'll force the decision-makers to finally do something about this."

Police say speed not a concern

Fraser said he recently petitioned the Saanich police to conduct a speed assessment for the neighbourhood. 

Saanich police Sgt. Julie Fast said the outcomes of the 16-day review didn't show anything out of the ordinary. "Speed is not a concern for us on that road," she said. 

She said police naturally tend to patrol an area more frequently after a bad collision, but "we have to assess our resourcing appropriately."

A statement from the District of Saanich says it will "be discussing the circumstances of this collision with the Saanich police to help understand ... the contributing factors."

The district said its reviews of the area show the intersection "meets appropriate engineering standards for the level of traffic," but "we will review any application information" to determine a course of action.

Fraser said the community planned to gather for a meeting Tuesday evening, where they hoped to "reignite" ideas to make the community safer. He said a presentation to city council is possible. 

"I would encourage other people [with] similar issues in their communities to speak up," he said.