Ottawa

Fatal crash prompts calls for overnight closure of Gatineau Park

After two people were killed in a car crash Tuesday night, some drivers and cyclists say Gatineau Park should be closed overnight to deter speeders.

Park's smooth asphalt and lack of police at night is attractive to speeders, say motorists

Camila Calvi,18, says two years ago she used to visit Gatineau Park at night regularly in the summer to hang out with friends. She remembers being in the car when a friend drove double the speed limit and says it could have been her involved in a crash. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

After two people were killed in a car crash Tuesday night, some drivers and cyclists say Gatineau Park should be closed overnight to deter speeders.

A man and woman, who were both in their early 20s, died when their car crashed into trees along the Champlain Parkway near the Huron Lookout just before midnight Tuesday.

RCMP say speeding was likely a factor.

Officers have not yet identified the victims.

The car crashed into trees along the Champlain Parkway just before midnight Tuesday. (SB/Radio-Canada)

'It could have been us'

Motorcycle riders say Gatineau Park's smooth asphalt, winding roads and lack of vehicles and police make it attractive to speeders.

Nick Klimowicz visits the park once a week on his motorcycle to watch the sunset and said he regularly sees people going over the speed limit.

"There is definitely speeding that goes on here," said Nick Klimowicz. "I think it's because the roads are in such good shape and there's not a lot of motorists on them."

After a fatal crash, some users say Gatineau Park should be closed overnight. Others say speeding could be addressed by increasing police patrols. 0:29


Camila Calvi, 18, said she remembers being in a car two years ago with friends who drove around the park at 120 km/h in a 60 km/h zone. 

"It was scary," said Calvi. "Things could have happened. Things could have gone wrong. It could have been us in that crash."

She's now older and wiser, but said she still has a lot of friends who race around Gatineau Park for the thrill. Closing the gates at night could prevent another tragedy, she said.

'I've never personally seen police here'

Cyclist Albert Saikaley agrees. "You're not going to stop people from speeding," he said. "At least close it off." 

He's been biking in the park for 30 years and said he hasn't ever seen RCMP patrolling the roads.

"I've heard of speed traps the odd time but I've never personally seen police here," Saikaley said. 

Nick Klimowicz says as a motorcycle rider he doesn't like the idea of shutting down Gatineau Park at night. He thinks the park could be patrolled by police more. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)

Cycling enthusiast Doug Van Den Ham said he regularly spots tracks where cars have driven off the road and has on occasion seen cars still stuck in the embankment in the morning. He also thinks closing the park at night could help.

"I think the cover of darkness is definitely emboldening some people," said Van Den Ham. "If there aren't the resources to police throughout the night to deal with racing up there, that might be the best option."

'We should just share responsibly'

Others said it should be up to police to crack down on the problem rather than shutting down roads at night.

"I think the roads are here for everybody and we should just share responsibility," said motorcycle driver Klimowicz. "It could be patrolled more." 

RCMP said police regularly patrol the park, including at night, and that the force is working with partners to improve public safety.

As for the NCC, it said it wouldn't comment at this time out of respect for the victims and their families. 

Cyclist Albert Saikaley says there's no way to stop motorists from racing in the park except for closing down the roads at night. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)