On October 2, 2020, Highbury Ave, the normally busy highway between London and St Thomas Ontario was shut down as a result of a “head-on” collision which eventually resulted in a reported fatality. The fatality was a bit more than personal. It led to a young woman being burned alive. There was a guilty party involved: an impaired driver. But fault was confusing when news media reported that the collision occurred in the southbound lane of Highbury Ave which is the lane in which the impaired driver was travelling. So, initially at least, the impaired driver would have been deemed not at fault, according to the news media. And the long- distance, telephoto lens shots, necessitated by the police insistence that the site be closed from anyone’s view, failed to provide any indication as to how the collision occurred. And so this is how the investigation began: A typical misinformation campaign providing no substance to anyone.

The collision reportedly occurred somewhere between Manning Drive and Glanworth Drive, or near the southern boundary of the City of London. Thus it was in the short, rural section of the roadway. This rural section of Highbury Ave stretches southward from Wilton Grove Road in south London to Elgin County Road 52 at the northern outskirts of St Thomas. Along this 14 kilometre distance it contains numerous curves and, combined with high traffic volumes, should have been detected as a source of dangerous collisions, if someone were to consider it. But that has never happened. No one has publicly acknowledged the obvious: traffic volumes have increased leading to dangerous situations.

View of Highbury Ave between London and St Thomas, Ontario.

Highbury Ave, between Manning Drive and Glanworth Drive, looks deceptively straight from this overhead, Googlemaps view. However, it conceals a gentle curve that is not apparent until actually travelling through the area.

This Googlemaps view of Highbury Ave looks northward toward Manning Drive from just north of Glanworth Drive. The existence of the gentle curve is more pronounced here because the view is zoomed in.

Historically Highbury Ave has not been the source of many serious collisions. As an example, while an accident investigator with the University of Western Ontario Multi-Disciplinary Accident Research Team, I conducted approximately 800 collision investigations in the 8 years between 1980 and 1988 and only one investigation was conducted on Highbury in the noted 14-kilometre distance. In  June, 1988, I conducted the investigation of a personal injury collision at Highbury’s intersection with Middlesex County Road 37 in Westminster Township. I have no information about what County Rd 37 is named today but suspect it may be either Manning Drive or Glanworth Drive. This would be close to where the currently discussed fire and fatality occurred.

How does this collision information of the 1980s compare to what has been happening in the last 10 years on Highbury Ave? That is not an easy answer but the best resource has to be Ontario’s Road Safety Annual Report (ORSAR). A copy of the  ORSAR 1988 edition provides Synopsis table summarizing the year’s major safety facts, as shown below.

And the above table can be compared to the data from the ORSAR of 2020, shown below.
What should stand out is that in 1988 there were 1076 fatal and 76,724 personal injury collisions in Ontario whereas as in the year 2020 there were only 505 fatal and 23,184 personal injury collisions. This is a vast drop in serious collisions over this time period.

The population of Ontario in 1988 was estimated at 9,439,600 and the number of registered vehicles was 5,872,739, whereas in 2020 the population was 14,745,040 and there were 9,795,303 registered vehicles.  So, by these numbers alone, there should have been many more collisions in the year 2020 than there were in 1988 but the reality is the reverse. The numbers of serious collisions in Ontario dropped over this time period.

For highways such as Highbury Ave the Ontario trend should have been upheld in that the number of serious collisions on Highbury Ave should have dropped. But that does not appear to be the case. In fact, I will describe, shortly, some of the collisions that have been reported in news media between the years 2012 and 2021 and that drop in serious collisions does not appear to have happened.

As part of my general activities I have often attended the sites of serious collisions even though I have not been called to be involved via a paying client. Thus whenever a serious or fatal collision occurred within driving distance of London, Ontario, and if time permitted, I would go out after all the police and news media have left, and I would examine the physical evidence for myself.

On October 30, 2011 I attended the site of a fatal rollover collision involving a northbound Mercedes sedan on Highbury Ave between Glanworth Drive and Manning Drive. I met a distraught family member there who was grieving over his sudden loss of the young male driver.  What I saw, as I had seen through hundreds of times on rural roadways, was the clear evidence of diverging and converging tire-marks signaling the loss-of-control rotation of a northbound vehicle onto the east roadside as shown in the photo below. (I apologize for the out-of-focus views in these photos as I was experiencing a camera malfunction.)

View looking north along the east shoulder of Highbury Ave on October 30, 2011. Tire marks visible in the gravel shoulder and on the grass indicated that the Mercedes was rotating counter-clockwise and was almost sideways when it struck the embankment of a field-access driveway which initiated the vehicle’s rollover.

Upon sliding sideways for some distance the vehicle struck the embankment of a field-access driveway which caused the vehicle to commence a rollover.

View, looking north, at the field-access driveway on the east side of Highbury Ave where the Mercedes, sliding sideways, made contact and subsequently rolled over resulting in fatal injuries to its young driver.

Events like these began to be noticeable to me but did not register within the psyche of official entities. Higher traffic volumes were creating problems on Highbury Ave., even in the year 2011.

Another example of important developments on Highbury Ave is shown  below, taken from an observation a southbound vehicle travelling between Manning and Glanworth Drive on August 13, 2012. As shown in the photo below, the impatient driver of the southbound car is tailgating the vehicle ahead and is preparing to make a passing motion regardless of the solid-yellow centre-line which prohibits such a motion at this location. While we look through these photos we cannot just condemn the actions of the driver but we must also ask the important question: Why is this happening?

This example of an impatient southbound driver shows the tailgating that occurs before the driver makes a decision to commence a passing motion despite the presence of the solid centre-line.

The photo below shows the partly-completed passing motion that has occurred, dangerously, within a curve of Highbury Ave. We can see from this photo that, even though this passing motion is successful, the impatient driver will be prevented from his accelerated speed by the large southbound truck that is shown in the background.

View of the impatient southbound driver who has commenced a passing motion in a curve of Highbury Ave even though the solid centre-line prohibits such a dangerous action.

Without the assistance of continual police enforcement it is difficult to stop such dangerous behaviour. As shown below, after successfully completing the dangerous passing motion, the driver is now tailgating the next vehicle ahead, even though it is obvious that a heavy truck exists and the impatient driver will also have to devise a method of passing that truck if the intention is to continue to travel faster than the rest of the traffic.

As can be seen, the actions of the impatient driver cannot be totally curbed after his successful and dangerous passing motion. He now begins to tailgate another vehicle ahead, even though the presence of the large truck will mean that additional dangerous passing motions may occur.

As can be seen in the photo below, heavy traffic volumes and the presence of sharp curves near the boundary of Elgin County have prevented the impatient driver from conducting any further dangerous passing motions.

The sharp curves of Highbury Ave just south of the Elgin County boundary, along with the high traffic volumes, have prevented the impatient driver from commencing any further dangerous passing motions.

These are indications of an irresponsible driver who is placing himself in a very dangerous situation. I have observed how quickly the general public, especially the uncontrolled “crazies” on the internet, have quick solutions to these problems as they become the ultimate professors of wisdom, dragging the rest of their motely crew of lemmings over the undetected cliff face.  Their quick and unreasoned solutions are doomed to failure because they have a very small concept of the complexity of these issues.

Unsafe passing motions on Highbury Ave are often generated when slow-moving vehicles such as heavy trucks and farm machinery interfere with the regular speed of traffic such as shown here from a photo taken on February 17, 2012 near Dingman Drive.

Dangerous passing motions are one of the sources of fatal collisions on busy highways such as Highbury Ave. but that information has never been passed on to the average roadway user. For decades I have observed how such actions endanger, not only the dangerous driver doing the passing, but also the lives of drivers coming in the opposite direction of the dangerous driver. And what has never been explained by anyone is that these actions also endanger the lives of the drivers travelling in the same direction as the dangerous driver but directly behind the dangerous driver. The explanation of this comment will be provided shortly. But what needs to be conveyed is that those police, news media, representatives of transportation agencies and politicians who have an opportunity to correct these safety problems are all complicit in hiding the dangers of these events by failing to allow the details of collisions from reaching the public and informing them of those dangers.

In the following text I have assembled descriptions of 19 serious collisions that have taken place on Highbury Ave in the 14 kilometre zone of rural roadway between London and St Thomas, between the years 2012 and 2021. These descriptions are taken directly from published news media articles. It is noteworthy that I am unable to attach the photos that these news agencies have included in their collision description because those photos are copyright. This demonstrates how important information about how collisions occur, and how the public could avoid being victims of those collisions, is used by our society as a commodity, much like pork bellies on the futures market. Not a single thought has been given by many officials as how unethical this process is.

Appropriately, the first collision is one which leads directly to the comments I just made about a hidden danger that occurs during dangerous passing motions. Here I will provide a more detailed explanation. I will also provide some details about the site of the October 2, 2020 collision before continuing the rest of the collision descriptions without comment.

  1. Driver escapes serious injury in rollover crash in London

By Scott Taylor, The London Free Press
Thursday, October 25, 2012 3:35:29 EDT PM

No one was seriously injured Thursday when a car swerved off of Highbury Ave. near Glanworth Dr. and rolled over into the ditch.  A witness said the driver, who was taken to hospital as a precaution, was cut off by another vehicle, which kept going on its way. By the time firefighters and paramedics reached the driver, he had removed himself from the wreckage and was sitting by the side of the road.

This short description indicates that there were no serious repercussions of the vehicle rollover. But the situation could have been much worse, and it has been much worse, in numerous previous, injury and fatal collisions I have examined. I examined the site of this collision on October 25, 2012 after all the police and news media left the site. The view shown in the photo below is looking north along the east roadside of Highbury Ave at the location where the subject vehicle came to rest. Although it may be difficult to comprehend, the vehicle slid down the small embankment while still on its wheels and did not rollover until the bottom of the slope. Thus this was a mild rollover compared to most.

View, looking north, along the east roadside of Highbury Ave just north of Glanworth Drive. Scraping of the earth along this embankment shows how the vehicle slid on its wheels and then rolled over near its rest position.

When I came to the top of the embankment I could see where the southbound vehicle had approached the east shoulder while rotating counter-clockwise. This was clearly demonstrated by the curved “yaw” tire marks that could be seen crossing the roadway centre-line as shown in the photo below.

View looking north along Highbury Ave. My finger is pointing to some “yaw” tire marks which were created when the rotating vehicle came across from the west shoulder and onto the east roadside where it rolled over.

Walking further northward I stepped onto the southbound lane where I could clearly see the curved “yaw” marks in the gravel of the west shoulder. This indicated that the southbound vehicle moved onto the west shoulder, likely in a attempt to avoid the described northbound vehicle which had encroached into its lane, and then the driver lost control of the vehicle on the west shoulder, as shown in the photo below.

View, looking north, from the southbound lane, showing the obvious yaw marks coming from the west shoulder and curving into the southbound lane. This shows that the vehicle was initially on the west shoulder when it began to rotate counter-clockwise, out-of-control, and crossed the highway where it rolled over.

The photo below is another view, looking south-east, of the yaw marks on the roadway as they crossed the centreline and the vehicle travelled toward the east roadside where it rolled over.

View, looking south-east, along the yaw marks as they cross the roadway centreline indicating that the southbound vehicle travelled across the opposing lane of the highway and rolled over in the east ditch.

Why is it important that the results of this collision be highlighted even though there was no significant injury involved?

Returning to the issue of the dangerous passing motion of the southbound vehicle described earlier, the same applies here except that we have a northbound vehicle performing the dangerous motion. The northbound vehicle entered into the southbound lane and interfered with the southbound vehicle’s travel. In an attempt to avoid the northbound vehicle the southbound driver steered onto the west shoulder where his vehicle went out of control and crossed onto the east roadside. The reason why there were no serious consequences was because a second northbound vehicle did not exist in the northbound lane when the southbound vehicle passed through it. A stroke of luck. But many fatal collisions occur because such a lucky result does not occur. Many fatalities occur because a second, northbound vehicle is struck by the out-of-control, southbound vehicle. And this is the moral of this important story. A driver of a northbound vehicle could become a  fatality, not because he or she was directly involved in the interplay between the two opposing vehicles. Instead, the driver of the second northbound vehicle could just happen to exist, following the first northbound driver who made the dangerous passing motion. In many instances the driver of the second northbound vehicle might not detect the danger he/she is placed in because the danger is not immediately apparent. The driver of the second northbound vehicle might observe the dangerous passing motion but might not see any relevance to his/her safety because the danger existed from the interaction between the two opposing vehicles. Even when the southbound vehicle enters the west shoulder this could still not be perceived as a danger because the vehicle is still on the other side of the road. But the development of the counter-clockwise rotation takes several seconds before the southbound vehicle begins crossing into the northbound lane. By that time the driver of the second northbound vehicle is not able to comprehend what is about to happen until the out-of-control vehicle is approaching into the northbound lane. In previous investigations of such fatal collisions I have observed that the driver of the second northbound vehicle is only able to react minimally by steering  slightly toward the right (east) shoulder but by then it is already too late. This action only exposes the driver’s door area to encroachment and structural intrusion which would have been lessened it the vehicle had simply been travelling in a more forward direction. This is not idle talk on my part. As difficult to comprehend as it may appear, I am explaining the circumstances of an important event that recurs, over and over again, without any notice from official entities who have no understanding of what they are dealing with.

And this is the tragedy that is unknown  to almost all drivers in such incidents. It is unknown because no one studies the details of these vehicle motions. No one measures the vehicle crush and no one studies how vehicles interact with each other during the impact phase. To this day, so called Collision Reconstructionists have no idea of what they are dealing with in such collision scenarios. How could they possibly hope to instruct others or to inform the travelling public about the sequence of such events? Even more so, the travelling public has absolutely no idea of the danger they are exposed to in these sequences. And naturally those news media reporters who appear to inform the public also have no clue as to what they are writing about.

Why this initial collision is important is because it sets up the circumstances by which the subject collision of October 2, 2020 might have occurred. Even though police and news media have provided no useful information about this collision, the circumstances, based on the vehicle rest positions and likely areas of damage, are similar to what I have discussed here.

Now I will present the remainder of the 18 collisions without further comment, except for the October 2, 2020 collision which will be discussed in further detail.

  1. Teen charged after three-vehicle crash on Highbury

CTV London Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013 12:57PM EDT

An 18-year-old male from Thames Centre has been charged with careless driving after a three-vehicle crash southeast of London on Tuesday evening. Elgin County OPP say the crash occurred on Highbury Avenue between Webber Bourne and Carr Road just after 7 p.m. Officials say a northbound Jeep Patriot crossed the centre line while navigating a curve, hitting a southbound Honda CRV head on and then spinning into a Ford F150 pickup travelling behind the CRV. The Jeep came to rest in the east ditch while the CRV and F150 came to rest in the west ditch. Both the Jeep and CRV suffered extensive damage while the F150 was moderately damaged. A 53-year-old St. Thomas woman had to be extricated from the CRV. She and the driver of the Jeep were transported to a London hospital but suffered only minor injuries. The 33-year-old Central Elgin man driving the F150 was not injured in the crash. The crash closed Highbury Avenue for about two hours. Jeremy Nopper is facing one count of careless driving in connection with the crash.

  1. Highbury Avenue closed Thursday morning after two-vehicle crash sends St. Thomas man to hospital with life-threatening injuries

By Ian McCallum, St. Thomas Times-Journal Thursday, October 17, 2013 10:26:15 EDT AM

OPP officers investigate a collision between a car and a passenger van near the intersection of Highbury Ave. and Mapleton Line north of St. Thomas on Thursday. The crash sent the driver of the car to hospital in London with life-threatening injuries. (Ben Forrest, Times-Journal).  Highbury Avenue north of St. Thomas is expected to remain closed until early Thursday afternoon following a serious two-vehicle crash early this morning. Elgin OPP say a southbound Honda Civic crossed over the centre line and collided with a northbound passenger van around 5:25 a.m. at the intersection of Highbury Ave. and Mapleton Line. The driver of the Honda Civic, a 23-year-old St. Thomas man, was taken to London Health Sciences Centre with life-threatening injuries. The driver of the passenger van, a 52-year-old St. Thomas man, was taken to St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital but has since been released.

  1. Four injured in head-on crash south of London

London Free Press Staff Saturday, February 8, 2014 9:49:37 EST PM

Four people were injured, two of them critically, in a head-on collision south of London Saturday night. Two vehicles travelling in opposite directions collided at Highbury Ave. S. and Glanworth Dr. at 7:45 p.m., police said. A man and woman were taken to London Health Sciences Centre in critical condition. Two others were taken to Elgin General hospital in St. Thomas with non-life threatening injuries. Highbury Ave. between Glanworth and Manning drives is closed while police investigate.

Man dies after head-on crash south of London

Lonson Free Press Staff Sunday, February 9, 2014 8:53:00 EST PM

A man has died from the injuries he sustained in a head-on crash south of London Saturday night, police said. The man was one of four people taken to hospital after the 7:45 p.m. crash at Highbury Ave. S. and Glanworth Dr. He and a woman were taken to London Health Sciences Centre in critical condition. Two others were taken to Elgin General hospital in St. Thomas with non-life threatening injuries. Police on Sunday did not release the identity of the man

Highbury Ave. sinkhole could close the road for several days

By Ian McCallum, St. Thomas Times-Journal Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:25:13 EDT AM

A sinkhole discovered Thursday morning could play havoc with the commute between St. Thomas and London. The deceptively small hole – several feet in diameter – appeared above a culvert on Highbury Ave., just north of Glanworth Dr. Once excavation began, the extent of the damage was much more severe and one of the main connector roads between the two cities could be closed for at least two days. Crews from the City of London will have to replace the culvert – about five feet below the road surface – and then fill and repave the roadway. Northbound traffic is being rerouted at Glanworth Dr. and southbound at Manning Dr.

  1. One person taken to hospital after crash on Highbury Ave

CTV London Published Thursday, November 5, 2015 11:22AM EST

London police say a man has been taken to hospital after a crash on Highbury Avenue Thursday morning. Police say two vehicles collided on Highbury Ave south of Manning Drive. The man had unspecified injuries. Witnesses at the scene say that the man appeared to be awake and speaking before being taken to hospital. Highbury was closed between Manning and Glanworth Drive for an investigation and cleanup.

  1. Serious crash in Elgin County on Ferguson Line and Highbury Avenue

By Hala Ghonaim, The London Free Press Friday, August 5, 2016 1:53:00 EDT PM

A dump truck, pickup and car were involved in a serious crash in Elgin County shortly before noon Friday. One person died in the crash and another is in critical condition, police said. Two others were also taken to hospital, OPP said. The crash happened in the area of Highbury Avenue near Ferguson Line.  OPP have closed Ferguson Line between Dalewood and Yarmouth Centre Road. Serious crash in Elgin County on Ferguson Line and Highbury Avenue

By Hala Ghonaim, The London Free Press Friday, August 5, 2016 7:02:37 EDT PM

One person was killed and another was fighting for their life in hospital following a three-vehicle crash Friday involving a dump truck on London’s southern outskirts in Elgin County. Ontario Provincial Police had released no names, but said the passenger in a pickup truck in the crash died at the scene, at Ferguson Line and Highbury Avenue. The crash, just before noon, left four others injured, one critically.

  1. Crash closes Highbury Avenue

CTV London Published Wednesday, September 21, 2016 1:36PM EDT

A serious crash has closed down Highbury Avenue between Truman Line and Ferguson Line. Not much is known at this point, but three vehicles were involved and two people were taken to hospital with unknown injuries. A witness tells CTV News that one of the northbound cars hit the wheels of a tractor trailer. That caused the car to spin around and hit a third vehicle behind the truck. It’s not clear when the road will reopen.

  1. Woman killed after empty school bus crashes on Highbury Avenue

Free Press staff Published on: May 3, 2018

A woman has died after a two-vehicle crash involving an empty school bus south of London Thursday morning. Elgin OPP arrived at the scene of a crash between the southbound bus and a northbound sedan on Highbury Avenue around 7:15 a.m. The driver of the sedan was pronounced dead. St. Thomas paramedics arrived at the scene and assessed the bus driver. No one was taken to hospital. OPP collision investigators are set to arrive at the scene to probe the crash. Highbury Avenue between Glanworth Drive and Ferguson Line is closed for the investigation.

Highbury crash victim identified as Sarnia woman, 37

Free Press staff Published on: May 4, 2018

Elgin OPP have identified the woman killed in a crash between a sedan and empty school bus Thursday morning south of London. Del Daley, 37, of Sarnia was killed when a northbound black car and empty southbound school bus collided on Highbury Avenue between Webber Bourne and Ferguson Line just after 7 a.m. Thursday morning. Daley was pronounced dead at the scene. The collision happened on a curvy stretch of Highbury Avenue south of Highway 401 that’s surrounded by farmland –one of just a few direct north-south corridors between London and St. Thomas.

  1. Fiery crash sends 5, including infant, to hospital with minor injuries

CTV London Published Thursday, November 8, 2018 9:55AM EST

St. Thomas police say five people including a baby are lucky to have only suffered minor injuries following a fiery crash overnight. Police closed the intersection of Ron McNeil Line and Highbury Avenue  just after midnight following the crash. According to police a northbound truck suddenly turned into the path of a southbound car. The car slammed into the truck causing the truck to catch fire; eventually both vehicles were engulfed with flames. Two adults from the truck, two adults from the car, and an infant from the car were taken to hospital in London with minor injuries.

  1. Jacked knifed tractor-trailer on Highbury Road near Truman Line

(No further information was made available)

  1. Highbury Avenue closed after rig carrying scrap metal crashed

London Free Press Staff Updated: April 15, 2019

London police closed a portion of Highbury Avenue in the city’s southeast end early Monday for cleanup following a truck rollover. Police say a “large commercial vehicle” carrying a load of scrap metal was travelling on Highbury Avenue about 3:45 a.m. when it rolled over, spilling its cargo on the busy stretch of the road. Highbury Avenue, between Westminster and Scotland drives, will remain closed for most of the day, police said.

  1. Multi-vehicle crash closes southbound Higbury Avenue

CTV News London Published Friday, January 10, 2020 11:28AM EST

LONDON, ONT. — The London Fire Department is asking drivers to avoid the area after a collision at Highbury Avenue and Glanworth Drive. The southbound lanes of Highbury have been closed following the multi-vehicle crash late Friday morning. There is no word yet on how many vehicles were involved or if anyone was injured.

Multi-vehicle crash closes Highbury Avenue in south London

CTVNewsLondon.ca  Staff Published Friday, January 10, 2020 11:28AM EST

LONDON, ONT. — The London Fire Department was asking drivers to avoid the area after a collision at Highbury Avenue and Glanworth Drive. Highbury was closed in both directions at Glanworth for several hours following a multi-vehicle crash shortly before 11 a.m. Friday. The collision, involving a black car and a flatbed truck hauling two vehicles, left both vehicles in the ditch and debris scattered across the road.

Highbury Avenue south of London closed following crash

London FREE PRESS STAFF Updated: January 10, 2020

A multi-vehicle crash Friday morning forced the closing of a portion of Highbury Avenue between London and St. Thomas. The crash happened around 11 a.m. in the area of Glanworth Drive, south of London. It wasn’t immediately clear how many vehicles were involved in the collision. Both north and south lanes were closed as emergency services attended the scene, with authorities asking people to avoid the area. The area was reopened shortly before 1 p.m. Authorities initially reported one person had been taken to hospital after the crash, later retracting that information.

  1. Two people injured following Highbury Ave. crash

Brent Lale Videographer @BrentLaleCTV Published Saturday, February 29, 2020 3:27PM EST

LONDON, ONT. — Two people were hurt following a two-vehicle crash south of London Saturday afternoon. The crash happened between a car and a pickup truck at Highbury Avenue South and Truman Line. It’s not clear how the accident happened, although the roadway was snow covered from drifting. OPP say two people suffered non-life threatening injuries and were taken to hospital. Highbury is closed from Thomson Line to Truman Line for the investigation.

  1. Two motorcyclists killed in crashes in London

Author of the article: Dale Carruthers

Two motorcyclists were killed in separate crashes in London in less than 12 hours, London police say. A 30-year-old woman motorcyclist died in hospital after a single-vehicle crash at Dingman Drive and Highbury Avenue about 1:45 p.m. Sunday, police said. The names of the two were not released. Police are still investigating both crashes.

  1. Emergency crews respond to serious collision at Highbury and Manning

CTVNewsLondon.ca Staff Published Friday, October 2, 2020 6:24PM EDT

LONDON, ONT. — Emergency crews were called a serious motor vehicle collision on Highbury Avenue South between Manning Drive and Glanworth Drive Friday afternoon. The two-vehicle crash happened at about 5:20 p.m. Friday. Initial reports say a head-on collision took place in the southbound lanes of Highbury. London fire, police and Middlesex-London Paramedic Service are on scene.  Highbury between Glanworth and Manning is expected to be closed for several hours.

One driver killed, another charged, in Friday crash on London’s outskirts

Author of the article: Free Press staff Publishing date: Oct 03, 2020

A St. Thomas woman was killed and another driver from the city charged with impaired driving in a two-vehicle crash on the southeast edge of London late Friday afternoon. Police said Saturday that the driver of one car, a 35-year-old woman from St. Thomas, died at the crash scene at Highbury Avenue South and Glanworth Drive following the collision about 5:20 p.m. A 23-year-old St. Thomas man is charged with impaired driving causing death and with driving with a alcohol-blood reading of more than 80 milligrams.

St. Thomas woman dies in fiery crash on Highbury

Brent Lale and Kathy Rumleski CTV News London Published Friday, October 2, 2020 6:24PM EDT

LONDON, ONT. — London police say a 35-year-old St. Thomas woman has died following a two-vehicle crash on Highbury Avenue South on Friday. A 23-year-old St. Thomas man is charged with impaired operation of a vehicle causing death and blood alcohol concentration exceeding 80 mg in 100 ml of blood. He was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Emergency crews were called to the collision on Highbury between Manning Drive and Glanworth Drive at about 5:20 p.m. The head-on collision took place in the southbound lanes of Highbury. Platoon Chief Colin Shewell says two fire stations responded, as well as a tanker. One vehicle was engulfed upon arrival, he says. Water from the engine and tanker were used to cool the vehicle. Several people who came upon the scene tried to help. “Yes, it was so horrible,” says Cindy Jones, whose son was also at the scene. “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.” Jones would like to see vehicles carry extinguishers. “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.”

Emotional victim impact statements heard at Tyler Besterd sentencing hearing

Nick Paparella CTV News London Reporter Published March 11, 2022 1:12 p.m. EST

Tears were flowing as emotional and powerful victim impact statements were heard at the sentencing hearing of Tyler Besterd, 24, of London, Ont. In December, Besterd plead guilty to impaired driving causing death in connection with the fiery crash that killed Cindy Devine, 35, of St. Thomas. The court heard that Devine, a mother of four was struck head-on by Besterd’s pick-up truck along Highbury Avenue South on Oct. 2, 2020. In her victim impact statement, Devine’s mother Maria Santos told the court and Besterd, “You have destroyed our lives… our world has been turned upside down.” She continued, “Cindy’s passing has shattered our souls.” Richard Devine, Cindy’s spouse told the court how their children must grown up without a mother saying, “She was the love of my life…she had the most pure heart and soul.” Devine was also described in court as talented musician and gifted artist. Bob Reid, also a musician who is better known in London as Bobnoxious, gave a tearful submission. He was the first one on the scene and tried to comfort Devine before her vehicle was engulfed by flames. Reid told the court, “I suffer from bouts of depression and guilt and the heavy weight of failure because I couldn’t get her out of the car.” Reid says he’s angry at Besterd because he told the court while at the crash scene the impaired driver seemed more concern about his truck and didn’t even realize that Devine was trapped in her car. When Besterd addressed the court he expressed he sorrow, saying “I sincerely apologize for my actions…I am truly sorry and remorseful.” In a joint submission, both the Crown and defence are asking the court that Besterd be sentenced to five and a half years in prison. Justice Glen Donald will hand down his sentence on April 4.

The news-media accounts here provide some context to this tragedy but are otherwise of no use in preventing a similar future incident. I say this because there was absolutely no information about how the collision occurred, where it occurred, or anything else that could be used to provide a scientific explanation.

I attended the collision site on October 8, 2020 or almost a week after its occurrence. Even though I had no information about the damage to the vehicles nor any details about the physical evidence that existed shortly after the occurrence, what I did see was not surprising. The vehicle rest positions could still be clearly distinguished in the markings on the pavement and shoulders. A burned out area on the east roadside clearly indicated the rest position of the northbound car in which the young woman perished.

View, on October 8, 2020, showing the burned out area on the east roadside of Highbury Ave where the young female driver succumbed to the post-collision fire.

View, on October 8, 2020, looking south-west toward the final rest position of the pick-up truck on the west shoulder of Highbury Ave.

View, on October 8, 2020, showing the east, painted, edge-line of the northbound lane of Highbury Ave. Gouges are visible at this line and clearly indicate that this is where the two vehicles came into impact. Thus of Pick-up truck travelled fully across the northbound lane while the deceased car was likely partly on the northbound shoulder when the impact occurred.

I could still see a single tire mark that was crossing diagonally across the northbound lane, most-likely caused by the southbound pick-up truck as it approached the point of impact.

The point-of-impact was clearly identified by gouges located at the white, painted, edge-line of the northbound lane. Thus there was no ambiguity about which vehicle was on the wrong side of the road. Clearly the southbound pick-up truck had moved fully across the highway and the impact occurred near the edge of the northbound shoulder. This is completely against the news media reports that indicated the impact occurred in the southbound lane of the highway.

View, on October 8, 2020, looking north along the northbound lane of Highbury Ave. The black tire mark positioned at a diagonal to the lane was likely caused by the pick-up truck as it crossed into the northbound lane just before the impact.

I have not seen the damaged vehicles so I do not know even the very basics such as the vehicle makes and models. But after decades of examining thousands of head-on collisions the significance of the general layout of point-of-impact compared to the vehicle rest positions did not escape me. What also did not escape me was the significance of the curves located so the south and north of site.

  1. OPP West Region


Highbury Ave closed between Thompson Line Truman line for a 2 Vehicle collision. Dump truck VS car. Driver of car transported to hospital w serious life threatening injuries. Dump truck driver suffered minor injuries. Avoid area, investigation is ongoing.

Life-threatening injuries after head-on crash involving dump truck

CTV NewsLondon.ca Published Friday, October 30, 2020 11:57AM EDT

LONDON, ONT. — One person was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries after a head-on collision involving a dump truck and an SUV Friday morning. The crash happened on HIghbury Avenue South between Thomson Line and Truman Line, just north of St. Thomas. Highbury curves significantly at the location where the accident took place near Carr Road. The female driver of the SUV had to be extracted from the vehicle by firefighters. The driver of the dump truck was also taken to hospital for observation, but his injuries were not thought to be serious.

17. Man killed in single-vehicle crash on Highbury Avenue

Lindsay CharltonCTV Windsor Web Writer Published Sunday, May 16, 2021 11:40AM

WINDSOR, ONT. — London police are investigating a fatal single-vehicle collision that closed a section Highbury Avenue Saturday night. Police say emergency crews responded to the crash in the area of Highbury Avenue South between Westminster Drive and Dingman Drive around 9:20 p.m. A 29-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene.

  1. Serious crash sends two people to hospital

A crash on Highbury Avenue near Manning Drive in London, Ont. on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. (Jim Knight / CTV News)


A serious two-vehicle collision closed Highbury Avenue near Manning Drive on Thursday afternoon. Two people were taken to hospital after the crash in London’s south end. A minivan and a pickup truck collided, leaving one person with serious injuries. The roadway was closed and traffic was backed up in the area as police investigated.

  1. Serious crash closed Highbury north of St. Thomas, Ont.

Published Dec. 30, 2021 6:16 a.m. EST

Highbury Avenue was closed for most of the evening Wednesday as OPP investigated a serious crash outside of St. Thomas, Ont. Multiple ambulances had to be dispatched follow the collision between Carr Road and Thompson Line late Wednesday afternoon.

Serious crash closed Highbury north of St. Thomas, Ont.

CTVNewsLondon.ca Published Dec. 30, 2021 6:16 a.m. EST

Highbury Avenue was closed for most of the evening Wednesday as OPP investigated a serious crash outside of St. Thomas, Ont. Multiple ambulances had to be dispatched follow the collision between Carr Road and Thompson Line late Wednesday afternoon. The OPP confirm two vehicles were involved in the collision. Central Elgin Fire Chief Murray Decorte tells CTV News London four people were transported to hospital. One of those people was initially critical, but has since been updated to life-altering injuries.


Over the years I have tried to warn whoever may listen about the dangers posed by a post-collision fire. On the Gorski Consulting website I have posted 18 articles between 2018 and 2021 about the dangers of post-collision fires. Yet official entities continue to treat them as minor events because there is no subsequent injury or death.

The fact is that crucially important information about the collision of October 2, 2020 has not been made available. Evidence that could be used to understand the specifics of how this collision occurred and how it might have been prevented. As can be seen from my comments about previous collisions on Highbury Ave, the high traffic volumes, curves and divergent speeds of vehicles mean that unsafe passing motions occur. It is likely that such an unsafe passing motion by a northbound vehicle could have interferred with the impaired southbound driver of the pick-up truck in the October 2, 2020 collision. Steering toward the west shoulder the impaired driver would have lost control of his vehicle and caused it to travel across the centre-line and into the path of the northbound vehicle driven by the deceased. I obviously cannot prove this theory and without the essential details of the evidence I cannot perform an accurate reconstruction. Unfortunately the official entities are more interested in making sure that charges against the impaired driver are upheld rather than performing any actions to examine what actually happened in the collision and how the method of contact between the vehicles led to the unfortunate results.

A pick-up truck’s bumper is typically at a higher vertical height than that of a typical passenger car. Given the selfish actions of pick-up truck drivers they will lift the bodies of their vehicles even higher such that there is bumper mis-match and a greater threat of injury to a passenger car driver when a head-on impact occurs. But this is not the only problem. When the pick-up truck rotated into the northbound lane the young female driver of the northbound car likely attempted to avoid the impact by steering toward the east shoulder. This is why the collision gouges are at the east edge line. I do not say this because I’m guessing. I have reconstructed numerous fatal head-on collisions of this type, is this similar orientation. When the car is steered toward the east shoulder there is a substantial loss of protection to the car driver that would normally be afforded by the presence of the left-front structure of the vehicle. Thus the pick-up truck penetrates into the left front wheel area and toward the left A-pillar and door of the car. This is why the comment was made by one of the witnesses at the site that the young woman was trapped by the steering wheel and column of her vehicle. This is an indication of the structural intrusion that occurred due to the manner in which the vehicles were oriented at impact.

It is absolutely crucial that a proper reconstruction of the incident include a detailed study of how this  interaction occurred between the two vehicles. I have performed such detailed studies in numerous fatal collisions. But no one else has ever taken the effort to do so. So called “reconstructionists” have never created detailed scale diagrams of crushed vehicles to study how they have interacted during the impact phase and this results in a failure to understand how a life could be saved. It is clear in the present case that, despite the structural intrusion that entrapped her,  the young female driver survived the crash. This was evident from witnesses who claimed to be talking to her after the crash and there was no immediate threat that a fire was going to erupt. But a fire did erupt and this is what claimed her life. So it is absolutely essential to understand how that fire developed. Was there an opening created somewhere in the fuel system? Was the electrical system involved in starting the flare-up? These are crucial facts that have not been discussed. The official investigators whose responsibility it was to document these circumstances ought to have found answers to these questions, or should have called for specialized help if they were not qualified to do so.

Other than working to place the impaired driver in jail for several years the official entities of the justice system have done nothing to prevent a similar, future collision from recurring. What is truly remarkable however is that ordinary citizens have stood up and made efforts to correct this. A truly heroic effort has been made by local individuals such as Bob Reid and Tony Bendel by creating an “Extinguishers For Cindy” campaign thus causing vehicle owners to place fire extinguishers in their vehicles. The news media item describing this campaign is shown below.

#ExtinguishersForCindy campaign to receive 1,000 Fire Extinguishers from London, Ont. company

  • Brent Lale
  • CTV News London Videographer

Published March 14, 2022 5:32 p.m. EDT

Ten more seconds, is all they believe they needed. When Cindy Devine’s car caught fire on Oct 2, 2020, none of those who stopped to help on Highbury Avenue south of London, Ont. had a fire extinguisher in their car. Devine’s sister Christine Rozon believes an extinguisher may have bought enough time for first responders to arrive. “Nobody should ever watch what I saw,” says Bob Reid, who was one of the first civilians on scene, and tried to help remove a pinned Devine from her car which a short time later went up in flames. “I don’t want that to happen to any family ever, so put a fire extinguisher in your car,” says Reid. Reid is advocating along with St. Thomas native Tony Bendel to make it mandatory for all vehicles to come equipped with a mounted extinguisher. While they wait for #CindysLaw to be official, their local campaign #ExtinguishersForCindy pushes forward. “I got a phone call from a company in London, and they have approximately 1000 fire extinguishers that he said they want to find a home for,” says Bendel, who was friends with Devine. “They heard about our campaign and he thought this is this is where they need to be.” #ExtinguishersForCindy has given out 900 fire extinguishers, and raised about $32,000. This one donation will double their work to date. “This is a huge donation,” says Bendel. “That’s 1,000 extinguishers, roughly $40 apiece, so $40,000. That brings our total to almost $72,000 that we’ve raised for this campaign.”

Actions like these can make a difference. Absolutely no one should have to witness the death of anyone because of a post-collision fire. Especially when the technology built into modern vehicles saves a life from the initial impact. The responsibility lies with us all, to ensure that these tragedies are not left to meaningless statistics. And it is our mutual responsibility to ensure that these events are properly reconstructed and then used as educational opportunities to inform the public about how to avoid them or reduce their consequences.