Fatal collision renews calls for change to Parkland County intersection with deadly history

After the death of a 22-year old woman on Wednesday, calls have been renewed to change the intersection of Highway 16A and Range Road 20, 16 kilometres northwest of Spruce Grove, Alta.

Government considering long-term changes to improve safety, including relocation

A woman holds a dog. A man stands besides her holding a photo of a young woman.
Michelle Kwasnycia and Byran Kwasnycia hold a graduation photo of their daughter Jade Kwasnycia, who died in a vehicle collision Wednesday. (Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/CBC)

Calls to change a notorious Parkland County intersection are being renewed after a fatal collision this week. 

Jade Kwasnycia died in a Wednesday afternoon collision at Highway 16A and Range Road 20, an intersection 16 kilometres northwest of Spruce Grove, Alta. that has seen multiple vehicle fatalities. 

The 22-year-old died after her sedan collided with a truck, according to a Thursday news release from Parkland RCMP. 

Emergency services, including STARS Air Ambulance, attended the scene but were unable to save the woman.

The 61-year-old man driving the truck suffered only minor injuries.

"My wife was there as my daughter died," Bryan Kwasnycia said through tears as he recalled his wife, Michelle Kwasnycia, being the first family member to reach the scene.

She was with their daughter as she took her last breath inside an ambulance. 

After the death of a 22-year old Jade Kwasnycia on Wednesday, calls have renewed to change the intersection of Highway 16A and Range Road 20, 16 kilometres northwest of Spruce Grove. (Submitted by Bryan Kwasnycia)

Kwasnycia said her daughter had her whole life ahead of her and was about to enter her fourth year of university for teaching.

"She worked in the summer with special needs children. She volunteered at the church across the road. Her and her boyfriend were making plans on engagement and marriage at the end of the school year."

The family is now adding their voice to a chorus calling on the province to take concrete action to ensure no other lives are cut short while driving through the intersection. 

'Never been safe' 

Kwasnycia, who has lived in the area for 40 years, said the intersection "has never been safe" and that locals have been calling for improvements for decades.

He, his wife and his uncle have each had previous collisions while going through the intersection. 

Kwasnycia said it's dangerous due to the highway and range road not intersecting at right angles to each other, creating blind spots for drivers.

"We call it the devil's intersection or the death intersection," he said. "It's just the layout." 

The highway and range road do not intersect at right angles to each other, which critics say creates dangerous blind spots for drivers. (Google Maps)

A Spruce Grove resident launched a public campaign last year calling for a redesign and relocation after being the first on the scene of a fatal collision.

TJ Holmes, 25, died after his vehicle collided with another on Aug. 2, 2021.

Spruce Grove's mayor and council say conversations with the province have been ongoing for years. 

"The proper solution is to have the high volume range roads move to feeders and to service road access," Mayor Allan Gamble said in an interview Friday.

"And then building infrastructure and overpasses across the highway so that residents don't have to cross them and intersect them directly."

Division 4 Coun. Natalie Birnie said there has also been a push to decrease the speed limit from the current 100 km/h.

"I would like to see that speed limit brought down to 80 km/h, both directions."

Measures by the province

Hadyn Place, acting chief of staff for the minister of transportation, said in a Friday statement the province was working to address safety concerns.

"The department is currently reviewing options for long-term changes that can be made to improve safety at the intersection – including relocation of the intersection. 

"Residents of the community will be consulted on any improvements that will be considered."

He said near-term safety improvements, including an "Important Intersection Ahead" sign with flashing lights, an oversized checkerboard sign, and improved lighting had already been implemented at the intersection.

Place included preliminary data that shows the number of collisions has decreased after installing the important intersection sign in 2017. 

According to the statement, there were 49 collisions at or within 300 metres of the intersection, excluding those with animals or off-road. Of these, 28 caused injuries and 21 were property-damage-only collisions.

There were no fatal collisions between 2014 and 2018.


Mrinali is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She has worked in newsrooms across the country in Toronto, Windsor and Fredericton. She has chased stories for CBC's The National, CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup and CBC News Network. Reach out at Mrinali.anchan@cbc.ca

With files from Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi