Black ice blamed for fatal car crash

An expert witness for the defence believes black ice triggered a fatal car crash three years ago.

An expert witness for the defence believes black ice caused a Nanaimo mother’s car to veer into oncoming traffic, triggering a fatal car crash three years ago.

Clare Bekkers, 38, is facing impaired and dangerous driving charges following a collision on the Island Highway near the Cassidy Inn Dec. 22, 2008 that killed her two sons and injured her two daughters.

Geoff Evans, a civil engineer with a background in forensic accident analysis, was called by the defence to give his opinion of what happened leading up to the car crash.

“I think it was just an unlucky situation that Mrs. Bekkers got herself into,” he said.

Evans said several factors were present the day of the crash that he believes created a “perfect storm” for development of what he called the “flash freeze” phenomenon.

The air temperature for the 11 days prior to the accident was below freezing and windchill is recorded for eight of those 11 days, which would have caused the freezing to move into the pavement structure, said Evans.

A road supervisor recorded the air temperature in the area of the crash as just above freezing around 4 p.m. that day, he said, and the road surface temperature at –1 C.

The left-hand curve on which Bekkers lost control is banked so the water would run towards the centre of the highway, Evans added, and the sun was setting at the time of the crash, which could mean a sudden drop in air temperature as the sun dips behind the mountain and trees.

Evans believes Bekkers’s left front tire may have caught a patch of ice when she decided to move her vehicle, which he determined to be front-wheel drive with no anti-lock braking system, from the slow lane to the fast lane in the curve.

He believes the tire that caught the ice then lost traction and acted as a fulcrum point to rotate the vehicle counter-clockwise, as it was already moving in that direction with the lane change, while the right front tire, which still had traction and half the vehicle’s power, propelled the car counter-clockwise into oncoming traffic.

Evans said if another driver found themselves in the exact same circumstances, the same thing could have happened and the same loss of control can occur whether a person is going 15 km/hr or 50 km/hr.

“When you hit black ice, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re doing 15 or 50,” he said. “The loss of steering is immediate.”

Cross-examination of Evans continued Wednesday, when final submissions from Crown and defence lawyers were originally expected.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dump truck crash causes power outage in Nanaimo’s south end

No reports of injuries after crash Monday morning on Old Victoria Road

City of Nanaimo to hold invasive plant ‘drop zone’ event

Public invited to bring invasive plants to Bowen Park’s upper picnic shelter Saturday, May 30

International students ‘biggest unknown’ in Nanaimo school district’s budget planning

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ board will look at preliminary 2020-21 budget this week

Car cruise in Nanaimo lifts seniors’ spirits during pandemic

Cars 4 COVID includes Nanaimo Seniors Village in its route

Health authority extends administrator’s mandate at Nanaimo seniors home

Island Health says ‘significant progress’ being made at Nanaimo Seniors Village

UPDATE: Police say SUV driver crossed centre line in East Wellington crash

Woman sustained serious injuries, required extrication from vehicle

CVRD testing Shawnigan water after complaints of metallic taste, odour

“This type of problem has come up a number of times in summers in the past”

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Three people facing mischief charges after protests at Premier John Horgan’s home

Special prosecutor was appointed to avoid real or perceived undue influence

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

UPDATE: Police say SUV driver crossed centre line in serious East Wellington crash

Woman airlifted after requiring extrication from vehicle; baby unharmed

44% fewer passengers flew on Canadian airlines in March 2020 than in 2019

COVID-19 pandemic has hit airlines hard as travel remains low

Most Read