The Kamloops Cycling Coalition (KCC) is hosting a memorial ride on Saturday, Aug. 6, honouring the Kamloops doctor who died after colliding with a transport truck as he cycled down a multi-use path next to Highland Road in Juniper Ridge.
Andrew van der Westhuizen, who was a radiologist at Royal Inland Hospital, died from his injuries on June 30, after spending weeks in hospital following the May 11 collision. He collided with the truck — which was headed in the same directions — when it turned right, crossing over the multi-use path to enter a dump site for ongoing construction in the area.
“The Kamloops cycling community has been rocked by the passing of Andrew van der Westhuizen,” a social media post from the KCC reads. “This tragedy spotlights bike safety issues in our city. Many cyclists have had near misses similar to this. We are heartbroken over the loss of Andrew’s life, for the grief of his wife, Jen, their children, his extended family, friends, neighbours and the medical community in which he served.”
With the endorsement of Andrew's wife Jen van der Westhuizen, who told KTW she will be attending the memorial ride, the KCC is inviting cyclists from across Kamloops to participate.
Starting at 10 a.m. at the parking lot of the Juniper Bike Ranch, at the top of Highland Road, riders will bike down the multi-use path, retracing Andrew’s route.
Participating cyclists will space themselves out in a procession line and stop at the scene of the collision, where a moment of silence will be held. The event will then conclude with participating cyclists continuing slowly down the hill, dispersing safely.
Tragic collision occurred in May
On May 11, Andrew had been biking to meet up with Jen their two-year-old son at the bottom of the hill, where they were to pick up their six-year-old daughter from a bus stop. Andrew’s parents were biking with him when the collision occurred. The multi-use path he was travelling on is separated from traffic by concrete barriers, but there is a gap at the entrance to the dump site where Andrew was struck.
That access road had a locked gate over it shortly following the accident, which remained in place as of Aug. 4. City of Kamloops transportation manager Purvez Irani has told KTW the municipality intends to monitor traffic activity along Highland Road over the summer to determine if any improvements and/or pilot projects should be implemented to enhance safety along the corridor.
Jen told KTW she is overwhelmed and grateful for the outpouring of support from the Kamloops community, neighbours and her husband’s colleagues.
“It is a huge testament to the type of human he was,” Jen said, adding the response shows just how far-reaching Andrew’s kindness spread. She said she has received supportive messages from people “far and wide,” from those she doesn’t know, but who had a connection with Andrew.
“The overreaching words are what a kind human he was and the way he made people feel was such a positive impact and we’re thankful to the community coming together to put on the memorial bike ride and the blood clinics that will be popping up in Andrew’s honour,” Jen said.
The memorial ride will help highlight bicycle safety, while honouring Andrew, Jen said, adding that there will be more information available about an upcoming blood donation clinic at RIH in honour of Andrew. The donor-awareness event in Andrew’s memory all take place in the new Royal Inland Hospital Atrium on Wednesday, Aug. 10, at 10 a.m.
Jen said a large number of people have registered for the clinic, meaning more time slots have had to be added.
“That’s overwhelmingly amazing that the awareness is helping bring light to blood donation and people are doing so,” she said.
Jen said her family will also be donating a memorial bench for Andrew at the bike ranch, noting she and her daughter will bid farewell to Kamloops at the private event in Juniper Park following the memorial ride.
“We’re really sad to be leaving the Kamloops community and our network here,” she said.
Jen said the family moved to Kamloops from the Lower Mainland a year ago for Andrew’s career and have now moved back home to Campbell River to be close to family. Jen also noted their Kamloops home overlooked the site of Andrew’s accident, explaining it would have been too difficult to continue living in the home and passing by the site each day while travelling in and out of the neighbourhood. The route past the accident site is only road in and out of Juniper Ridge.
“It’s a little bit too raw and really hard, so we’re just moving back to our family,” Jen said.
Celebration of life planned for Aug. 13
A celebration of life will be held for Andrew in his hometown Victoria on Aug. 13. It will be live-streamed, a link to which will be available at www.celebratingAndrew.com.
The family has asked those wishing to make a monetary donation in Andrew’s memory to send contributions to BC Children’s Hospital or Ronald McDonald House. People can make a non-monetary donation honouring Andrew by registering for organ donation through BC Transplant or blood donation through Canadian Blood Services, according to the KCC — something Jen has asked people to consider since the collision.
A blood donation team has been organized by Andrew’s former colleagues in Victoria and the RIH Medical Staff Association.