The patch of road that claimed the life of a 29-year-old Vancouver Island motorcyclist Monday, Sept. 24, has a notorious past.
According to RCMP, at approximately 3 p.m., Monday, a man was headed down from Mount Washington on Strathcona Parkway when his motorcycle left the road and went down a steep embankment.
Just metres away from Monday’s accident scene, there is a memorial cross, for Lance Edward Waddell.
According to the Sept. 17, 2003 edition of the Comox Valley Record, Waddell died on Sept. 14, 2003 after traveling down from Mount Washington on his motorcycle and failing to round a left-hand curve. Speed was a factor in that crash
North Vancouver Island Traffic Services and the BC Coroners Service are continuing the investigation the cause of the Sept. 24 fatality.
Friend familiar with area
Jazmine Rose Blais, a friend of the 29-year-old who died Monday, and a motorcyclist herself, said she has ridden down from Mount Washington on her motorcycle once and is familiar with the dangers of that curve. She said the curve where the accident happened can be difficult to navigate, even if you are doing the speed limit.
“We don’t know how fast he was going, but even if you’re doing the speed limit and then that bend, it’s kind of a slight hill, and if you’re not prepared for it… you don’t have any reaction time because you can’t see the curve up until you’re in it and it feels like you’re getting off the bike a little bit,” Blais told CTV Vancouver Island.
“You get up there and it is a slight bend, but that slight bend is always full of gravel and then there’s nothing, there’s just a ditch.”
Blais met the deceased only a couple months ago but already considered him a very close friend. She said he had sent her a few pictures from the top of Mount Washington around 10 minutes before the accident happened.
Blais said the man was a relatively new rider, having only started in the spring, but he had passed all his tests and always rode safely.
However, she added that only a few days ago he fell off his bike after a vehicle cut him off during a left turn.
“We all learn from those little accidents, but just a couple more days and that was it,” she said. “He was really good, just a safe rider, always paying attention and trying to get home to his kid every time – trying to survive that next ride and not getting hit.”
Blais said the deceased will be missed dearly, especially by his wife and young daughter.
“He was great, always had a smile on his face, was never angry, always had good things to say, always in a good mood and he loved riding – it was one of his favourite things to do.”
Another biker, who spoke to The Record on the condition of anonymity, said he has seen many Facebook posts from people who have clocked their times on the Strathcona Parkway - the road leading to/from Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
“I don’t know if [they time themselves] going up or down or both,” he said, adding that he prefers long-distance trips so doesn’t pay much attention to posts about speed runs.
“They try and see how fast they can go.”
He does not know if the deceased was involved in any such timed riding, but he says motorcyclists can be just as much a danger to themselves as other vehicles can.
“I’ve got a friend who works up there and he says he’s been passed coming down the hill in his truck – passed by motorcyclists going so fast it’s like they were shot out of a cannon,” he said. “It’s tough enough looking out for every idiot in a car, but the last couple of fatalities I’m aware of… it doesn’t appear these are anybody’s fault other than the motorcyclist.”
Monday’s tragedy is the second fatality of 2018 in the Comox Valley involving a motorcycle.
If anyone has information about this collision, please call the North Vancouver Island Traffic Services at 250-286-5646 and refer to file number 2018-471.