Could more concrete barriers save lives on the Sea to Sky?
As the province faces mounting pressure to install more concrete dividers on the Sea to Sky, loved ones of a driver who died on the notoriously dangerous highway say he could have been saved by one.
Jeffrey Kendrick was driving on the Sea to Sky in May 2016 when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed a decorative median and slammed into an oncoming vehicle. His death was part of what prompted an $800,000 initiative to add concrete medians to a stretch of the highway in Lions Bay.
“Every time I drive through Lions Bay now, it’s kind of this anonymous monument to him,” his sister, Erica Kuepfer, told CTV News.
The concrete barriers are the result of an exhaustive lobbying campaign by the community and the first responders serving it. “These crossover incidents that should just be a vehicle losing control often end, without a divider, in a head on crash,” said Tyson Lehmann, an advanced care paramedic.
Lehman remembers responding to many serious collisions in the Lions Bay area where vehicles were crossing the landscaped median. The Lions Bay dividers were completed in 2017, and there isn’t yet any official data on their effectiveness. Those familiar with the area, however, say the barriers are already making a dramatic difference.
“We think it’s been hit about a dozen times,” said Karl Buhr, the mayor of Lions Bay, adding that hitting the median likely means vehicles were prevented from hitting oncoming ones. “We’re servicing about half the number of calls on the highway in 2017 than we did in 2016, and years before.”
Now, residents in other municipalities further north along the Sea to Sky corridor are calling for similar concrete dividers. “There are some areas where they need to go in, there’s no question,” said Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden.
Squamish resident Trisha Loscombe, wants to see the barriers installed there as well. “Since Lions Bay got their barriers—how many accidents have they had that closed the highway? I don’t recall one,” she said. The province is now reviewing calls for concrete dividers in Squamish. Proponents hope the infrastructure could make accidents such as Kendrick’s less deadly.
“His death was not for nothing,” his sister said. “It’s helping to keep other people safe.