British Columbia

Mother of teen killed in Saanich crosswalk helps cyclist struck by vehicle at the same spot, 2 months later

Cyclist Paul O'Callaghan was struck by a vehicle in almost the exact same spot 16-year-old Kaydence Bourque had been killed two months earlier, prompting more calls for improved road safety in Saanich, B.C.

2 high-profile incidents renew calls for improved road safety in Vancouver Island district municipality

Paul O'Callaghan says he was lucky to recover with just a broken ankle but worries without road safety improvements, incidents between vehicles and pedestrians and cyclists will continue to occur. (Submitted by Paul O'Callaghan)

Lying on the ground after a collision with a truck, cyclist Paul O'Callaghan started talking to a witness who came to help.

What he didn't know was he was speaking to the mother of a teenager who had been killed in the same spot exactly two months earlier.

"She's got tears in her eyes, and the first thing I say to her is, 'Why are you crying?'" O'Callaghan recalled.

That's when Crystal Bourque told him about her son, a 16-year-old who lost his life while crossing the marked intersection just outside their home.

An 'emotional moment'

Kaydence Bourque was on his way to his part-time job just before 10 p.m. PT on Dec. 6, 2021 when he was struck by a vehicle while crossing a marked crosswalk on Cedar Hill Cross Road. The Saanich, B.C., teen died in hospital two days later.

His death prompted calls for improved road safety in the neighbourhood, including reducing the speed limit, an issue O'Callaghan says he was familiar with.

An experienced cyclist, O'Callaghan passed a makeshift memorial to Kaydence that had been put up by friends and family along his route to work.

He was riding near that spot just after 2 p.m. PT on Feb. 7 when he was hit by a trailer being towed by a truck, catapulting him into the air.

Several witnesses came to his aid, including a woman who took his hand and started rubbing his forehead.

O'Callaghan says discovering she was the mother of the boy who'd been killed was an "emotional moment" for him.

"To see someone like that who has gone through so much suffering, and who is still going through it because it's so fresh in her mind," he said.

Sixteen-year-old Kaydence Bourque is remembered by his family as a funny boy who worked hard at everything he did and 'who didn't have a mean bone in his body.' (Crystal Bourque/Facebook)

Bourque posted about the incident on social media.

"He was saying this street is so bad and there was a young boy who died," she wrote. "I told him with tears running down my face that was my son."

She says O'Callaghan moved to comfort her but she told him not to move.

"I was just [happy] he was awake and talking to me," she wrote. "I stayed there and held his hand."

Renewed calls for change

Traffic safety in the Vancouver Island district municipality has become an issue in the upcoming municipal election, with several current and potential municipal leaders pushing for change.

Saanich councillor Rebecca Merserau has led the charge, putting forward a motion asking staff to speed up implementation of the city's active transportation plan from a 30-year timeline to 15.

"This incident  is a reminder that there is a huge risk in waiting so long to bring that change in place," she said.

There have been calls for improved road safety in Saanich, B.C. since Kaydence Bourque, 16, was struck and killed at a crosswalk in December 2021. (Crystal Bourque/Facebook)

But cycling-advocacy group Capital Bike says that's still too long a wait.

Spokesperson Corey Burger says his group is calling for a law mandating drivers to give cyclists a minimum clearance when passing. Where the road is too narrow to pass safely, the Motor Vehicle Act should give cyclists the right to take the full lane, he added. 

CBC requested comment from B.C's Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming, but has not yet received it.

In the meantime, O'Callaghan says cyclists are at mercy of the traffic and he's not sure when he'll feel safe getting back on the road.

"I'm worried about the mental impact," he said. "You hear about flashbacks, PTSD. I don't know how it will be." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Roszan Holmen is an associate producer for CBC Victoria. She got her start in community newspapers before making the switch to radio almost a decade ago. roszan.holmen@cbc.ca

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now