Everyone is devastated when a young life is lost due to the actions of an impaired driver. And we want to prevent its recurrence. Why does that same concern not apply to post collision fires?
News media reported that yesterday, October 3, 2020, a head-on collision occurred on Highbury Ave south of Manning Drive, on the southern edge of London, Ontario. At least one of the news outlets reported that a 35-year-old female was killed by the actions of an alcohol-impaired driver. Yet there was no mention of the fact that the woman died in a fire-engulfed vehicle.
A second news article posted by CTV News was more clear. It reported a post by Rebecca Blackmore who indicated “So many people, including her boyfriend, worked to try to pull the person out of the vehicle but couldn’t”.
In another post from Cindy Jones, she recalled “Yes, it was so horrible. My son is having a difficult time. He was trying to help getting her out. He said that the steering wheel and column was right against her. She said she couldn’t move (her) leg”.
CTV News reported that “Jones would like to see vehicles carry extinguishers”. Jones reportedly stated “I want to say something – everyone should buy a fire extinguishers for (their) vehicle. Could have made a difference. Her vehicle was pretty much gone by the time anyone showed up”.
CTV News also posted a statement by the deceased’s heartbroken husband.
There is no pleasure in reporting such facts. And many police and news refuse to do so. When a fire takes the life of someone the fact is hidden from the public as if this will somehow lighten the load for the family and friends of a deceased. But these short-sighted beliefs fail to address the very important fact that we need to make the public aware of these tragedies so they can be prevented. Hiding these outcomes does nothing to prevent them, it only enables them in the future.
Just two days ago Gorski Consulting posted an article on this website entitled “Silence About Post-Collision Fires”. There we wrote:
“The above incident reportedly occurred on September 30, 2020 at Perth County Road 135 and Line 44. OPP indicated that there were “No serious injuries”. However in many serious collisions doors can become jammed or occupants can become entrapped by deformation thus preventing escape from a post-collision vehicle. If a fire were to start, in many cases, the only hope is for emergency personnel to arrive in time to free an occupant. But if emergency personnel do not arrive in time, or if the extrication procedures become complicated, an occupant could be trapped without the possibility of escape. This is a real concern that cannot be avoided by silence. Steps must be taken to identify the numbers of post-collisions fires and why they seem to be occurring more often.”
What we wrote two days ago is precisely what occurred yesterday. A young mother did not escape a fire because she was trapped and no one could save her. What if we had posted this warning two years ago? (Actually we have posted man similar warnings in the past) What if police had made more effort to warn the public of these outcomes? What if police had informed the public that they were in contact with Transport Canada and that this federal agency was dealing with this potential safety problem? What if more news outlets such as CTV News in London took the courage to post these tragic results and get more public impetus for all responsible agencies to high-light this issue? Could we have saved this current tragedy from occurring? Unfortunately, in this instance, we will never know. But this is yet another opportunity to save the next future life by making all aware that vehicle occupants are dying in post-collision fires.