Blue Line

Safety fixes, police probe close rural intersection where two died in crash

June 12, 2023  By Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

June 12, 2023, Woodstock, Ont. – A rural Southwestern Ontario intersection where an OPP officer and a school bus driver were killed in a recent crash will be closed throughout the week for the ongoing police investigation and safety upgrades.

Oxford County officials say there will be lane restrictions and intermittent road closings at Oxford Road 33 and Highway 59 in East Zorra-Tavistock, north of Woodstock, beginning Tuesday through June 21.

“This is to allow police partners to continue their investigation of the May 29 collision in the area, and to allow Oxford County work crews to complete the planned road safety measures for this intersection,” county officials said in a statement.

School bus driver David James Stewart, 71, was just starting his shift and Det.-Const. Steven Tourangeau, 35, was working his first day with the OPP organized crime unit when their vehicles collided at the locally notorious intersection just before 7 a.m., police say. Both men, the sole occupants of their vehicles, died at the scene.

Police have released few details about the crash, which happened at an intersection long flagged as dangerous by county officials and nearby residents. Stop signs control east-west traffic along Oxford Road 33, and the posted speed limit on both roads is 80 kilometres/hour.

The county was in the process of making road safety improvements before the crash. Crews are expected to complete them by next week.

Among the new measures are a four-way stop, a speed reduction to 60km/h beginning 500 metres from where the roads meet on all four approaches, rumble strips, radar speed signs and red flashing lights above the crossing and mounted on all stop signs.

Investigators with OPP and London police, which is leading the probe into the double-fatal crash, will close the intersection Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon, county officials said.

Crews will begin construction Tuesday through June 21, with the four-way stop expected to be activated on June 20. The county released a detailed schedule:

Officials reminded drivers to “always follow posted signs and speed limits, drive according to weather and road conditions, and drive distraction-free.”

Tourangeau, the 11th Canadian police officer killed on the job since September, lived with his wife and three young kids in Thorndale, a small community northeast of London.

Stewart was a father of four who had been driving a school bus in the Woodstock area for the past 12 years after retiring from owning a local business.

– London Free Press

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