Elizabeth Wettlaufer was a nurse in Ontario who was convicted of a number of homicides in nursing homes. It has recently been revealed that her acts could have been detected if coroner’s inquests were held to examine the deaths that appeared suspicious. However, Ontario’s chief coroner, Dr. Dirk Huyer testified at Wettlaufer’s trial that budget cuts had resulted in reductions in the number of inquests from 3300 in 2007 to only 927 in 2015. It was not so much that budget cuts occurred but that those cuts and the decrease in oversight was not revealed to the general public. This issue is not only relevant to possible murders in nursing homes. It is relevant to all incidents of death in Ontario.
With respect to motor vehicle traffic fatalities there has been a continual lack of reporting of important facts about how persons have come to their deaths. Scant information is revealed by police and official news media report those facts often without any further investigation or questioning. An obvious problem is that many news organizations are seeing declines in ad revenue and therefore cuts have to be made. Numerous small and independent news gathering organizations have been shut down resulting in only a few mega-media reporting the same news story in almost every local establishment under their umbrella. The lack of independent reporting is an obvious concern when there is a need to question the cause of a death.
In recent months a small and independent newspaper, the Aylmer Express, attempted to gain further information into the July, 2017 death of a driver where it was deemed that he committed suicide when he drove off a cliff and into Lake Erie. The facts were not exactly clear as the OPP were also following the vehicle just before the collision. Additionally, a checkerboard sign which ought to be posted at the end of a road did not appear to exist where the vehicle left the road. These were serious matters that the Aylmer Express journalists attempted to clarify. However when the journalists passed through a police road closure they were arrested. A trial of the journalists was reportedly to take place this week but no news has emerged.
Even this weekend there have been several questionable traffic deaths that needed further explanation. CP24 News in Toronto is typically a more reliable source of many traffic fatalities in the Toronto area. However they reported yesterday, August 5th, 2018, that a fatal collision had occurred on McLaughlin Road North between Old School Road and Mayfield Road in Caledon but that police had not released any details about the crash and the area was closed off by police barricades. However, Gord Edick of Global News, was able to reach the site and a photograph was shown in a Global News article showing a vehicle stopped on the shoulder of a road and it was obvious that the vehicle had been totally consumed by a fire. It was reported that “human remains” were found in the vehicle. The photograph showed evidence of some possible minor damage to the rear of the vehicle but this could provide no explanation why such minor damage should cause the start of a fire or why the occupant of the vehicle was not able to escape the fire.
In another weekend incident, three fatalities occurred when it was reported that an SUV attempted to make a left turn and was struck by Corvette at the intersection of Highway 50 and Countryside Drive near Brampton/Vaughan. The SUV then struck a pole with its left side. Two children, aged 7 and 12 were killed along with a 47-year-old female driver. Photos suggested that two impacts occurred to the SUV that were of substantial severity. Such facts are not common. Additionally those who are familiar with the sources of severe and fatal injuries would know that children in the noted age groups are not as well protected because of their growing out of child seats and booster cushions while also suffering from poor seat belt geometry that is often designed form adult bodies. When children of this age group sustain fatal injuries under collision circumstances like these further questions should be asked because we want to reduce the likelihood that these tragedies will not repeat themselves.
These are examples of “Elizabeth Wettlaufers” in the world of traffic fatalities. They are hidden causes of a death. How many of these Elizabeth Wettlaufers exist in the realm of traffic deaths? Are some of these actual homicides? Are they due to some form of motor vehicle defect? Are there other traffic fatalities out there that are related to other unknown sources? Independent investigations of death have been reduced. While basic reporting is parroted by news media from information provided by police, little or no, actual, additional investigation is conducted by news gathering organizations. This is a recipe for the continuance of “Elizabeth Wettlaufer Causes of Death” that could remain hidden with little public knowledge of the facts.