Kemptville residents demand safety upgrades after pedestrian killed

Residents of Kemptville are calling on the municipality to improve safety for pedestrians along Highway 43 after a man was struck and killed by a passing vehicle on the weekend.

Gary Boal, 63, struck and killed by passing vehicle Saturday while walking along Hwy. 43

Flowers mark the spot along Highway 43 where Kemptville resident Gary Boal was struck and killed while walking home from dinner with his family on June 17. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Residents of Kemptville are calling on the municipality to improve safety for pedestrians along Highway 43 after a man was struck and killed by a passing vehicle on the weekend.

OPP said 63-year-old Gary Boal died after being struck by a westbound vehicle on the highway around 10 p.m. Saturday.

Boal was walking home with his girlfriend Diane Giliauskas, his son Jason Boal and Jason's girlfriend Kirsten Nordstrand when he was struck on the section of roadway that crosses Kemptville Creek..

The group had just had dinner in town, and were about one minute away from Boal's house when it happened.

Gary Boal with his daughter Crystal on her wedding day.

"We know 43 can be a little bit dangerous so we cut through the side streets and parking lots and only had to cross the bridge," Nordstrand said.

Neighbours Genny and George Marlatt saw the ambulance but didn't realize until the next morning that it was their longtime friend who had died. 

"I still don't believe it, actually. I'm still waiting for him to drive by and come home from work," George Marlatt said. "I'm just going to miss him a lot."

The Marlatts introduced Boal to Giliauskas at their own wedding nearly seven years ago.

"Diane has lost her soulmate. He was her right hand man," Genny Marlatt said. "It's an accident that could have been prevented, and that's what we're all baffled about."

'It's an accident that could have been prevented,' said Boal's friend and neighbour Genny Marlatt. Behind her is the bridge over the Kemptville Creek that Boal was crossing when he was struck and killed. (Jennifer Chevalier/CBC)

'Passing the buck'

"It's not safe. There needs to be sidewalks and lighting," said Gary's son Jason.

Kemptville resident Samantha Kutowy agrees. She said the Municipality of North Grenville, which includes Kemptville, has been aware of the safety problems along Highway 43 for years, but has done nothing.

It's not safe. There needs to be sidewalks and lighting.- Jason Boal

"No steps were taken to make it safer," she said. "The municipal council is saying that it's the responsibility of the county, and then the county in turn say they haven't got the funds from the provincial and federal government. So I feel there's a little bit of passing the buck here."

No one from the municipal council would speak to CBC about the issue, citing the ongoing OPP investigation.

'A wake-up call'

Longtime Kemptville resident Melissa Probert said she's seen many close calls on what she calls a "scary" highway.

She's particularly worried about students from St. Michael Catholic High School walking along the highway to get to jobs at the big box stores further up the road.

Kemptville resident Melissa Probert said she won't push her daughter Alison's stroller along Highway 43 for fear of being hit by a passing car. (Jennifer Chevalier/CBC)

The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario said no students walk along Highway 43 to get to school.

"All of the walkers live on the south side of Highway 43, and access the school via the crosswalk that connects the neighbourhood to the school property. All other students are bused," said the board's director of education, William Gartland, in an email.

Kemptville is one of the fastest-growing areas in eastern Ontario, with new businesses, a housing development and a retirement home being built.

"I hope it will be a wake-up call now," Probert said. "If they don't have any way for pedestrians to safely navigate from one end of 43 to the other end, I'm scared that there might be more things that will happen."