Mother of girls killed at notorious rural intersection begs people to obey stop signs
Oksana, 6 and Quinn, 4, died when driver went through stop sign near Dauphin, Man., in 2019
The mother of two girls who were killed after a driver blew through a stop sign near Dauphin is begging people to obey stop signs in the hope her daughters' deaths will help save lives.
Clare McBride's daughters Oksana Dutchyshen, 6, and Quinn Dutchyshen, 4, died on Aug. 16, 2019, after a driver ran the stop sign at the intersection of Road 147 N and Highway 362, about a 1½ kilometres north of Dauphin. Since then, a friend who lives near the intersection has been posting videos of vehicles that don't stop at the signs.
"Why are people still not stopping at that damn stop sign? Why are people still not stopping at any stop sign?" asked McBride, 31.
WATCH | Clare McBride's plea first-hand:
"You should come to a complete stop at a stop sign and wait for at least as long as it takes you to say Oksana and Quinn before you proceed, and you have to look both ways and make sure it's clear to do so."
The collision happened on a Friday night, as McBride was driving northbound on Highway 362, taking her girls home from swim lessons in Dauphin. Her daughters were cheerful and chatty and asked to stop for ice cream on the way home, which was just a 15-kilometre drive northwest of the city.
McBride told them they could go the next day instead, and asked her friend Jamie, who was sitting in the passenger seat, to get them some treats from the console.
"I looked down for a split second to set the cruise control and when I looked back up, I came past a bluff of trees that is at that intersection, and in my peripheral vision I saw something coming towards me," recalls McBride.
"And I looked and I [gasped] and Jamie looked and she went … Clare," she said.
"And boom. He hit us."
The force of collision sent her new Dodge truck spinning, separating the back axle, which landed far down the highway, and ripping the box from the bed.
"I will never ever forget the sound and the smell and the feeling of that impact. Ever in my life. I have nightmares about it. It flashes before my eyes sometimes during the day," she said.
"I will never forget the grille of that truck coming towards us and the feeling there's nothing I can do."
When they finally stopped spinning, they were in a ditch. Jamie was unconscious. McBride screamed until her seatbelt, which had completely immobilized her, loosened just enough for her to turn around to check on her daughters.
She said she knew they were gone.
It only took emergency crews 4½ minutes to respond. They performed CPR on Quinn, managing to get a pulse back twice, but couldn't save her.
McBride said the two men in the truck that hit them were taken to the Health Sciences Centre.
"I prayed for them and I don't know why I did because now neither of them are coming forward and saying it was me driving," said McBride.
She said goodbye to her daughters that night at Dauphin General Hospital, the same place they were born. Staff rolled her hospital bed between her girls' stretchers, and she held their cool hands as she cried.
"I was simply trying to drive my girls home from swimming lessons. And somebody decided not to stop at a stop sign. And sentence us to a life of pain."
No charges have been laid in connection with the collision. In a statement sent to CBC News, an RCMP spokesperson said, "the investigation is still ongoing and the file is progressing very well," adding police are searching for no other suspects.
"Unfortunately these investigations do take a great deal of time due to their complexity," the spokesperson wrote.
McBride said she appreciates the efforts of the investigators, adding she won't forget the care one officer took with her the day after the crash.
"He came out and he took my statement and I would speak for a little bit and he got it right word-for-word so I know that they have the right officer on the case but these things take time."
Her friend Dwayne Hutsal, who lives at the corner of the intersection, now posts footage of trucks that don't obey the stop signs in front of his house to social media. He wants more signage and speed bumps at the intersection.
"It's not just a one instance deal, it's ongoing, happening all the time and I've been battling with all levels of government for 12 years on this and nobody will help so that's why I have to spend money on cameras to do it," he said.
On June 23, 2018, a 39-year-old man and a 50-year-old woman were also killed at the intersection.
Hutsal's videos have prompted more of a public outcry, he said, and people have been calling the RCMP detachment asking that the drivers in the videos be charged for not stopping.
In a news release Tuesday, RCMP wrote that they are concerned about the dangerous driving at the intersection and will be out conducting extra enforcement.
"Everybody that has been killed at this intersection has been friends of our family and my kids have seen all of it so I've had enough of watching this go on. With no help from any level of government at all," Hutsal said.
In a statement sent to CBC News on Wednesday, Dauphin Reeve Ron Ryz said the rural municipality has reviewed the videos and takes the matter very seriously.
"We have contacted Manitoba Infrastructure to discuss the situation at the intersection and we are waiting on a response from them. We support the RCMP and we are glad to see that they have been able to increase their enforcement in that area."
A spokesperson for Manitoba Infrastructure offered condolences to the families and communities affected by collisions at the intersection.
"Manitoba Infrastructure takes these collisions very seriously and is actively looking at the intersection and working with the Rural Municipality of Dauphin and stakeholders on improvements. The RM is considering options to improve driver compliance to the stop signs on Road 147 N, such as additional signage or flashing lights."
'They were so loved'
McBride said any extra measure at that intersection, regardless of cost or efficacy, would honour the lives lost there.
She has moved to Kelowna, B.C., where she is trying to start anew, but she returns to visit her daughters' gravesites for their birthdays.
"They were both always very happy children and they were loved. They were so loved. They had so many family members that loved them. They had a close relationship with both sets of grandparents. They loved their mommy and daddy. They never got to come home and sleep in their own beds again," she said.
"I just don't understand why he chose not to stop."
She said seeing the videos Hutsal is posting is sickening and she also urges government to do more.
McBride's comfort now is in posting photos and videos of her daughters, hearing people say how cute they were, and knowing that they still matter and are loved.
"My ex-husband and I are going to live with missing them for the rest of our lives. But if we can prevent any more deaths at that corner or at any stop sign then maybe … maybe their deaths are not in vain.
"Because you do not recover from child loss. It is soul crushing, it is devastating, it rips your world and your universe apart you don't recover. You just go on with life. You live with pain every day of your life and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."