Residents urge change in high-crash ‘Sumas Prairie Speedway’

Seven fatal crashes among 233 total in area since 2010, according to data obtained by resident

After they were T-boned by another vehicle at the intersection of Campbell and Dixon roads, Camille Timmermans says she and her husband are lucky to be alive.

Theirs is one of more than 200 car crashes – including seven fatal – in the area since 2010, prompting Sumas Prairie residents to urge the city to do something about what they’ve dubbed the “Sumas Prairie Speedway.”

The pair was driving home along Campbell Road from Timmermans’s parents’ home on April 9 this year, when Timmermans noticed an SUV was not slowing down for the two-way stop sign along Dixon Road.

RELATED: Patient airlifted after crash on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford

She tried to get her husband’s attention, but by the time he was aware of the speeding SUV, all he could do was try to speed up and swerve through the intersection to avoid a full-on collision.

Speeding up, Timmermans says, may have saved her life, as the SUV hit the passenger side of the vehicle in the rear door, inches behind where she was sitting.

The vehicle landed in one of the area’s deep ditches, which Timmermans said was about thigh-high in water when she exited her vehicle.

RELATED: One dead after serious crash in rural Abbotsford

Looking to her left, Timmermans says she found her husband’s eyes were open, but he was non-responsive. She checked his vitals to make sure he was alive, and after several minutes he eventually woke up. The two were able to exit the vehicle on their own, and they were taken to the hospital to get checked out.

But Timmermans wonders what could have happened if the car had flipped over when it entered the ditch.

“Because we’re in the country, not a lot of people get to witness these accidents, either, because there’s not a lot of traffic going through. So we had only two people come and help us after,” she said.

If the vehicle had flipped over and their heads, rather than their feet, were submerged in the ditchwater, Timmermans says she wouldn’t have been able to help her husband, who is around six-foot-five and 230 pounds.

A crash at the intersection of Dixon and Campbell roads left Camille Timmermans (top-right) and her husband Nathan (bottom-right) with long-lasting injuries, including a concussion and muscle issues.
Submitted photo
A crash at the intersection of Dixon and Campbell roads left Camille Timmermans (top-right) and her husband Nathan (bottom-right) with long-lasting injuries, including a concussion and muscle issues.

Submitted photo

RELATED: Man killed in two-vehicle crash on Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford

Joyce Verwoerd, who lives across the street from the Timmermans, adds grimly that an area resident only recently suffered that very fate.

Verwoerd recently filed a freedom of information request with the Abbotsford Police Department for the number of crashes and fatalities on the area’s roads. The numbers are staggering: 233 crashes in that time and seven deaths. That’s two crashes per month and nearly one death per year.

Asked what she would like to see done to reduce fatalities and crashes in the area, Verwoerd said she would leave that to the experts – whether it’s more four-way stops; rumble strips or speed bumps ahead of stop signs; or even something more high-tech.

RELATED: Police believe fatal Abbotsford crash took place overnight

Timmermans’s father, Don Larsen, pointed to some solutions presented to him after he did some research. That includes systems that would detect oncoming traffic and alert people around the corner, which would cost somewhere in the area of $15,000 per intersection.

For about a tenth of that cost, he pointed to stop signs with flashing lights on them to make sure people see the signs.

Larsen compared the cost – likely in the millions – to the amount paid out by ICBC, the provincial Crown corporation for auto insurance currently in a financial crisis, for those 233 crashes.

Beyond the financial aspect, Timmermans notes her and her husband’s lengthy recovery. She tore muscles, and still hasn’t gone back to work at Timmermans Landscaping. Her husband’s concussion has dampened his social spirit and affected his memory.

Verwoerd says she expects to be presenting to the city’s traffic committee in the near future. A city spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

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