Maureen Dodd lives on Concession 2, a long stretch of rural road where vehicles often speed.
With not much of a shoulder to walk on, she is in the habit of jumping in her van and driving to the Commons with her nine-year-old Great Dane, Miles, for a long walk.
While she heeds the stay-at-home message from the Town, and would love to be able to go out her front door and go for a walk, it’s simply not a safe place for either of them.
“I live in a rural area. There are no safe roads to walk, with a child or a dog, especially with the extensive speeding I’ve seen on rural roads and on the parkway recently.”
Last week, Tuesday, April 28, she and Miles were in the van on Line 3, almost at the Niagara River Parkway as they headed to the Commons, when a car turning left from the parkway lost control, and hit her side of the vehicle so hard she spun around and ended up facing the other direction.
The car that hit her travelled quite a distance, into a ditch, leaving a trail of debris behind.
Her van has been written off, but it saved her life, she believes.
The collision left her badly shaken, physically and emotionally, although uninjured — she feels it’s a miracle she’s still alive. And she’s angry, because “it was completely senseless. It shouldn’t have happened.”
And it could have been worse, if there had been pedestrians on the side of the road when it occurred, she says, or children riding their bikes.
She was further dismayed to see an online video by Fire Chief Nick Ruller, showing the scene of the collision, which was used to remind NOTLers, to stay home as requested, except for essential travel. She feels that it was aimed at her, suggesting she shouldn’t have been on the road. She points to the charges laid against the other driver — not proven — as the cause, rather than the fact that she was driving to the Commons to walk her dog.The other driver is also local, although she felt the chief’s message implied he was from outside the community.
Ruller introduces the intent of the video by saying he is responding to residents’ concern over the messaging of the signs and communications from the Town regarding non-essential travel into the community.“We don’t want to discourage anybody from essential travel,” visiting essential businesses, or providing care to those in need, he says.
Ruller’s point was that because of the severity of the collision, there were four police officers on the scene, two paramedics, four bystanders who stopped to see if they could help, eight firefighters and two fire chiefs. There are risks and unintended consequences when people take to the roads, he says, which is why the Town is trying to discourage non-essential travel — to keep residents safe, to stop the spread, and to limit unnecessary interactions for first responders.
He referenced the Line 3 collision between a resident and “someone out for a drive within the community” in the video, and did not intend to imply that Dodd shouldn’t have been on the road, he told The Local.
He didn’t identify her in the video, he says, and if she was going out to take her dog to a place where it’s safe for her to walk, “there’s nothing wrong with what she was doing.”
The message in the video was not about that one incident or those specifically involved in the collision, but to say to those who question why it’s wrong to just go out for a drive, “stuff like this can happen, and it involves a lot of resources. There were about a dozen people who were affected by it.”
Dodd says although she feels targeted by the video for being out on the road, “I’m completely grateful to all responders. They were professional, compassionate, and they did a very thorough investigation.”
Officers from the Niagara Parks Police Service responded to the call, charging the driver of the other vehicle, also from NOTL, with careless driving, and other offences related to insurance and lack of documentation. They are just charges at this point, not proven, say parks police, and the investigation is ongoing.