It was a clear March night last Monday as Cannery Park resident Angelo Recine drove east on York Road heading into St. Davids.
As he approached the intersection at Concession 6 around 10 p.m., he saw lights of another car, a grey 2020 Toyota, hurtling northbound toward York Road.
By the time Recine noticed that the car blew through the stop sign at the intersection, it was too late to stop. He said he tried slowing down but, as he was driving 80 kilometres per hour, he T-boned the back end of the Toyota.
“There are no lights or anything for that stop sign. If you don’t see the stop sign, you’re going to blow right through it,” Recine said.
“The street lights were not on, either. They were off, so it was completely dark.”
Recine said he’s driven down York Road many times and he’s seen other drivers miss that stop sign.
The Mewburn Road Bridge, which connects Niagara Falls to NOTL, just reopened last November. It had been closed for a decade so Concession 6 Road wasn’t used very often, Recine said. Now, it’s a popular backroad shortcut for many drivers.
“When that bridge closed, it was kind of a blessing in a sense those accidents weren’t happening,” he explained.
Recine said the street light poles at the intersection were off at the time of the crash and suggested it could have been prevented had there been flashing lights at the stop sign or if the area had been lit properly.
“At least, light up that area, knowing it’s a very troublesome spot in a highly dangerous area,” he said. “That’s my concern. I wasn’t the first one to be involved in an accident and if nothing changes, I won’t be the last one.”
Regional councillor Gary Zalepa said installing flashing lights on the stop sign is “a good suggestion” and he will look into why the street lights were off at the time of the crash.
The region is also working on designating more community safety zones across the region and putting up speed cameras in those areas, Zalepa said.
In Recine’s collision, his car spun out and hit a hydro pole blocking York Road while the other car went into the ditch.
Recine was able to get out of the car, feeling “shaky” and concerned about the driver and two passengers in the other vehicle.
As his car was in the middle of York Road and the hazard lights didn’t work, Recine said he was worried other drivers wouldn’t be able to see it.
While he was calling 911, another driver coming down York Road from St. Davids managed to see his car and stopped at the last minute, Recine recalled.
The Toyota driver, a 23-year-old man from Niagara Falls, managed to get out of his car, came to check on Recine, shook his hand and apologized to him.
After that, the driver went to check on his passengers, Recine said.
The NOTL fire department, Niagara Regional Police and an ambulance arrived on the scene “fairly quickly,” he said.
Both Recine and his wife Chiara commended the emergency service workers for working together like “clockwork.”
“It was amazing,” said Chiara who also arrived on the scene after her husband called her. “He was never left alone … There was always somebody with him.”
“They were very helpful and respectful. They were attentive to making sure I was OK,” Recine added.
He and one passenger from the other vehicle were then taken to the Greater Niagara General Hospital for treatment.
In the week since the March 2 crash, Recine said he’s been experiencing constant chest pain caused by the activated airbag.
“I cannot sleep at night, it’s uncomfortable. It’s hard to breathe. It’s really, really sore.”
The other passenger had “minor injuries,” Niagara Regional Police Const. Philip Gavin said in an email response to The Lake Report.
The Toyota driver from Niagara Falls was charged with careless driving, Gavin said. The crash caused about $10,000 in damage to the Toyota while Recine’s car had about $5,000 in damages, he said.
It’s not the first time concerns about road safety have been raised since the Mewburn Road Bridge was reopened.
From Nov. 1, 2019 to March 9, 2020, there have been five motor vehicle collisions in that intersection, but none of them were fatal, Gavin said.
The Recines said they feel “extremely lucky” no one was seriously injured but they are concerned if something isn’t done to alert drivers about the stop sign, there will be more collisions there.
“It really is a hazard and it’s just a matter of time for something serious to happen.”