A month after the tragic loss of two teenagers on a hazardous stretch of roadway, emotional appeals were made to Norwich Township council for urgent safety reforms. The council chamber bore witness to tearful representatives of the bereaved families and local homeowners who converged on Tuesday in a bid for change.
Shannon McMannis, representing the distraught families of the deceased youngsters, addressed the council. Barely starting her presentation, McMannis was subsumed by grief; she had to momentarily pause to recollect herself. She was standing for families devastated by a single-vehicle crash, which occurred shortly after midnight on August 4 near the intersection of Cornell and Furnace Roads.
This disastrous collision involved seven young passengers, snuffing out the lives of 16-year-old Lucas Crump and 18-year-old Avery Warwick. McMannis fervently requested a traffic engineering report, hoping it might shed light on improvements needed at the perilous intersection. Considerable support was garnered for safety adjustments along an eastbound segment of Cornell Road leading to Furnace Road, as the locality poses complex scenarios for drivers within a relatively short span.
An initial reduction in speed from 80 km/h to 50 km/h introduces the sequence of instructions. Shortly after, a sign cautions drivers to further decrease speed to 40 km/h, anticipating a sharp descent and a wide curve at the hill’s base. It is here that Cornell Road intersects Furnace Road over a bridge.
Also appearing before the council were Robert and Elizabeth Conti, long term residents of the area since 2015 whose property lies just east of Furnace Road. They brought along tangible evidence of the road’s dangers – a box filled with vehicle debris from multiple collisions near their house over the years. Robert underlined how these incidents seem to invariably occur on their side of the road or on the neighbouring property further south.
The council acknowledged both representations but refrained from instigating debate. Addressing the concern, CAO Lee Robinson assured that the matter was taken seriously, with the council’s insurance company set to conduct a professional review of the situation and suggest appropriate measures.
Lucas Crump’s grieving mother, Karen, was amongst those present in attendance. Articulating the urgency for roadway modifications, she poignantly noted, “If the council doesn’t do anything and make proper changes, they might as well buy the Conti property and make it an official graveyard.”
The investigation of the accident by the Oxford OPP is currently under progress.