Wes Cammiade was returning to Nanaimo with two of his friends after celebrating a birthday in Victoria. They were driving on the Trans-Canada Highway near Langford on Feb. 3, Cammiade sitting in the back and talking to his friend in the front passenger seat when all of sudden, he saw white.
“Next thing you know I don’t remember seeing anything else except being in the car, seeing white and being afraid,” Cammiade said.
Their vehicle and a BMW hit head-on near the Leigh Road overpass.
Cammiade suffered a broken leg, a broken arm and a concussion. His close friend of 10 years – 24-year-old Thomas Lindenau – was driving and pronounced dead at the scene.
Cammiade’s friend in the passenger seat also suffered significant injuries, including a broken neck and broken ribs, but is now recovering.
“I don’t think anyone would have died if there were medians there,” Cammiade said.
Since the tragic crash, Lindenau’s parents have started to push the provincial government to put barriers in place on the highway so that no more lives have to be lost.
Cammiade, who is close with the family, said he has been supporting the Lindenau family as much as he can while recovering. He said he has also been talking to people about driving safely on the Malahat.
“It was really scary for me,” Cammiade said. “Now it’s like I look at that corner and it just gives me fear… I imagine people coming at us when I try to pass it.”
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena said in a statement to Black Press Media that she reached out to Lindenau’s parents by phone.
“I assured them that I am firmly committed to improving safety along this corridor,” Trevena said. “I want to thank Mr. Lindenau’s family for having this discussion with me during a time of immense grief.”
The statement said Trevena has directed staff to “urgently explore an immediate short-term engineering option to enhance safety along [the] corridor.”
“The government is also committed to expanding this stretch of road to four lanes, with median barriers,” the statement read. “I want to reassure Mr. Lindenau’s family and the travelling public that improvements are coming.”
Langford Mayor Stew Young said the city has had conversations with the province to expand the highway to four lanes and have barriers made for a few years now. He said design drawings had been done in May, 2017.
“This is not new,” Young said. “As the mayor I will fight hard to make sure barriers are up because it’s the only solution that will save lives.”
Young said he does not think the province is moving fast enough on improvements to the Trans-Canada Highway. He said the barriers are important for travellers and also important for the West Shore community.
“It’s traumatic to first responders, RCMP… and especially the families,” Young said. “This tragedy transcends politics.”
Young said public safety is one of Langford’s biggest priorities and he said he does not want to see another accident in that area.
This was the second fatality on the Trans-Canada Highway near Leigh Road in 2019.
Const. Nancy Saggar of West Shore RCMP said since Jan. 2017, that stretch of highway saw 79 reported collisions. More than 40 took place in an area without barriers.
“We believe that this is an area that can use improvements and we would like to see that happen,” Saggar said.
Young said he wants to see changes quickly.
”The best thing to happen here is to move politics aside and get this done,” Young said. “It takes a tragedy to get something changed but this is two tragedies now and a third tragedy is not acceptable.”