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FATAL CRASH

Tillsonburg woman being transported to London on Voyageur van dies from crash injuries

Dale Carruthers

By Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press

The head of Ontario’s largest patient transfer service is defending its safety record after an elderly woman being transported to a London hospital died following a crash in the city last week.

Four people were injured when a Voyageur Transportation Services van collided with a minivan and a pickup truck on Highbury Avenue between Commissioners Road and Bradley Avenue.

Yolanda Goethals, 79, died a day later from her injuries at London Health Science Centre, police said over the weekend.

Voyageur chief executive Perry Ferguson said Goethals was being taken from Tillsonburg to London when the crash occurred last Wednesday.

“Obviously, we care very much about the people we’re transporting and we’re really quite saddened by this.” Ferguson said.

A relative accompanying Goethals, two Voyageur employees and a nurse were inside the van, Ferguson said.

Three of them suffered non-life threatening injuries. Two were treated at the hospital and released, police said.

While saddened by the crash, Ferguson defended Voyageur’s safety record.

Voyageur is the largest patient transfer service in Ontario, providing non-emergency service for 40 hospitals. “We’ve been doing this since 1979 and we have a very good record,” he said.

The company operates more than 600 vehicles — paratransit vans, medical transportation vehicles and school buses — from Windsor to Ottawa, said Ferguson, adding there has been only one other fatal crash involving a company vehicle.

On Oct. 24, 2003, a head-on crash between a car and a Voyageur van west of London killed two people and critically injured another. A car travelling north on Adelaide Road collided with the van northwest of Mt. Brydges, killing Joan Mary Collinson, 77, who was being taken to London hospital for dialysis treatment. The driver of the car was killed in the fiery crash, while the van driver suffered critical injuries.

Over the weekend, London police released few other details about last week’s noon-hour crash. No charges had been laid and the investigation continues, Const. Amy Phillipo said.

Goethals had three daughters, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She lived in Tillsonburg, where she was a member of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church. Her husband of 63 years, Julien, died in 2012.

The funeral will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Verhoeve Funeral Home in Tillsonburg.

dale.carruthers@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/DaleatLFPress