A few days after the District of Lake Country completed a significant upgrade to Bottom Wood Lake Road, Linda Evans and her son Jesse walked the road, passing new high visibility safety posts that separate the walking lane from vehicle traffic.
They stopped to tie a ribbon on a memorial to family member Josie Evans, the 15-year-old George Elliot student who in 2010 was struck and killed by a driver who didn’t see her as she walked home from school on a dark winter evening on the quiet stretch of road.
For mom Linda and brother Jesse, the completion of a project that was motivated by Josie’s death is at least something positive in what has been a terrible tragedy.
“It’s something special for sure,” said Jesse, now 24. “She seemed like she had a lot of promise, like she was the good one in the family. It happened when she was too young. Me and my brother are tradesmen but she probably would have been in Africa, helping out people there.”
In the aftermath of Josie’s death and while the courts dealt with the Lake Country senior charged in the accident, Linda Evans moved into action, working tirelessly for safety improvements and with the help of Josie’s friends (Teens for Change) handing out high visibility buttons for kids to wear.
“I think of her every day,” said Linda, standing at the memorial to Josie and in front of a new plaque in her daughter’s name that reads ‘For Josie…Be Visible.’
“It’s a hard thing to deal with so, for me, taking positive action gives you some comfort and something to do so you are not dwelling on the negative aspects,” she said. “Josie was a very considerate kid, the kind of kid you want. She was always true. She didn’t like it when her friends fought. She thought people should get along.”
The Bottom Wood Lake Road project focussed on improving safety for pedestrians and bikers on the 1.5 kilometre stretch of road. It features lighting, bus pull-outs and flexible bollards separating the pedestrian pathway from the bike lane and the main road.
“I was really pleased,” said Evans of the improvements. “There are more options for people who don’t have to take their vehicles. There is more lighting. It’s good for the whole community. It’s really a comfort to know that positive changes have come from it.”
For Jesse, time will never bring his sister back, but he too takes solace in the fact her death is helping others.
“I think she would have made an impact no matter what,” he said. “It’s probably making her happy that she left something behind. It’s just too bad that this had to happen.”