October 28th, 2020

Woman killed at Coalhurst intersection


By Mabell, Dave on November 27, 2019.

Dave Mabell

LETHBRIDGE HERALD

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

Another life has been lost at the dangerous Coalhurst intersection on Highway 3.

And Coalhurst Mayor Dennis Cassie says he’ll be asking the provincial government once again to make the intersection safer for town residents and all travellers.

Monday evening, a 66-year-old woman from Coalhurst was pronounced dead after a westbound vehicle struck hers as she was stopped, waiting to enter the highway.

If the speed limit is reduced and traffic lights installed – just as at Broxburn – the mayor says there should be fewer collisions, injuries and deaths.

“If we need to meet with the government again, it is something we will do in the very near future,” Cassie said Tuesday.

RCMP say speed and alcohol are regarded as factors in the crash, reported about 7:15 p.m. The Coalhurst driver was waiting at the stop sign, police say, when a westbound Volkswagen Jetta collided with her Ford Escape. She was carrying no passengers.

The driver of the westbound vehicle was taken to hospital with undetermined but not life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the Jetta, Brian Phillip Wesley of Lethbridge, has been charged with refusing to provide a blood sample, which carries the same penalty as an impaired-driving charge.

Town council has already taken action to improve residents’ safety, Cassie points out. It paved a nearby county road, providing eastbound drivers easy access to Highway 25 not far from its interchange with Highway 3.

“It’s a significant improvement,” and many residents are using it.

But the province has a role to play in making the Coalhurst intersection much safer, he says.

“That could save a lot of lives.”

At the town’s urging, Cassie adds, the highways department also extended a deceleration lane for westbound drivers turning right into Coalhurst – and an acceleration lane for eastbound motorists who’ve turned left after waiting for a break in the traffic.

It’s those left turns that put many people at risk, without the protection of traffic signals to give those drivers safe passage.

At present, the mayor reports, many drivers say they approach the Coalhurst intersection with fear, knowing how many injuries and deaths have occurred there.

If highways officials refuse a request for traffic controls, Cassie notes, perhaps they could restrict the intersection to allow only right turns into town, and right turns out. Residents heading to Lethbridge could then use the Kipp overpass or the newly paved access to Highway 25.

But on its own, the town has no authority to install a barrier in the highway median to do away with left turns.

Meanwhile Coaldale RCMP report they’re being assisted by a Calgary-based RCMP collision analyst. Road conditions are not considered a factor in the collision, they add.

Police are seeking assistance from anyone who may have witnessed the collision or observed the driving patterns of the involved vehicles beforehand. Witnesses are asked to contact the Coaldale Rural RCMP at 403-329-5080.

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