Could concrete barriers on the 401 have saved her fiance?

 

By Hala Ghonaim, CBC News

 

They were engaged to be married – but a London woman now carries her partner’s ashes with her after he died in a 401 crash she says could’ve been prevented.

“My world has just been a nightmare,” said Kathleen Reed. “I loved him to pieces. I love him this very moment. I still carry his ashes with me every day. He was the best man I’ve ever met.”

Kathleen Reed (right) and her late fiance Gary Lent. She’s pushing the Ontario government to add concrete median barriers along a stretch of the 401 corridor. (Submitted by Kathleen Reed)

Gary Lent, 66, died in February while on his way to work transporting auto parts across the province, after a truck crossed the median on the 401 and hit the big rig he was driving.

Reed decided to move to London from Brampton in September. She wanted to be closer to the trial into Lent’s death that starts in November in St. Thomas. She said one person has been charged with careless driving in relation to Lent’s death.

The 54-year-old Reed has been active in a campaign calling on the province to install cement barriers along a stretch of the 401 known as “carnage alley.” The people involved want the province to install concrete barriers on the 401 between Tilbury and London, where there’s only a grass median separating east and west bound lanes of the busy highway

“I can’t believe he’s actually not coming back,” said Reed. “Knowing that this could’ve been prevented with that concrete median there makes me angry.”

She said Ontario’s promise to install high-tension cables along the so-called “carnage alley” isn’t good enough.

“The pain [of his death] surrounds me every day. I don’t want anybody else to feel that. It’s a pain like no other,” she said. “I don’t want any other family to go through the hell I’m going through.”

A mother and daughter were killed in a crash last month on the 401 near Dutton after the family’s van collided with a truck that crossed the median.

Talks at Queens Park

About two dozen advocates were at Queen’s park on Wednesday to attend a question and answer period with Ontario’s minister of transportation.

They were armed with a petition that collected about 4,000 signatures supporting a concrete barrier.

Progressive Conservative MPP Jeff Yurek, who was at the meeting, supported the idea of installing concrete barriers.

“They provide enough of a barricade to stop cars and trucks from inadvertently crossing over into the oncoming traffic and causing these tragedies,” he said. “It’s not enough unless they’re going to put the cement barriers in.”