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London man charged with careless driving in fatal crash involving Voyageur van

Dale Carruthers

By Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press

A firefighter climbs out of an overturned Voyageur patient transfer van following a three-vehicle collision that shut down a section of northbound Highbury Avenue at Bradley Avenue around noon in London on Jan. 27. (Free Press file photo)

A firefighter climbs out of an overturned Voyageur patient transfer van following a three-vehicle collision that shut down a section of northbound Highbury Avenue at Bradley Avenue around noon in London on Jan. 27. (Free Press file photo)

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Police have charged a 37-year-old London man with careless driving following an east-end crash that killed an elderly patient being transported to a London hospital.

Four people were injured in the Jan. 27 collision involving a Voyageur Transportation Services van, a minivan and a pickup truck on Highbury Avenue between Commissioners Road and Bradley Avenue.

The chain-reaction crash was set off when the three northbound vehicles approached a slow-moving vehicle, said Sgt. Amanda Pfeffer, adding the stretch of road has an 80 km/h speed limit.

Both the Voyageur van and the minivan were able to slow down, said Pfeffer.

“But the truck following the minivan did not stop in time and rear-ended the minivan, which caused the minivan to strike the Voyageur van,” she said Friday.

The crash knocked the Voyageur van onto its side and down a ditch on the east side of the road.

The van was taking Yolanda Goethals, 79, from Tillsonburg to London. A relative accompanying Goethals, two Voyageur employees and a nurse were also inside.

Goethals was taken to London Health Sciences Centre with life-threatening injuries and died the next day. Three others inside the Voyageur van had minor injuries.

“We do a lot of work to make sure people are safe and vehicles are safe,” Voyageur chief executive Perry Ferguson said Friday, adding the company driver was powerless to prevent the crash.

“We couldn’t do anything about it,” he said.

Voyageur is Ontario’s largest patient-transfer service, providing non-emergency service for 40 hospitals.

The London-based company operates more than 600 vehicles — paratransit vans, medical transportation vehicles and school buses — from Windsor to Ottawa.

Investigators ruled out criminal charges in the crash, the first fatal collision of the year in London.

“In this case, it’s a Highway Traffic Act (charge),” Pfeffer said.

Last year there were seven fatal crashes in London, five of them involving pedestrians or cyclists.

 

 

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/DaleatLFPress