Student’s death turns attention to campus safety

Western officials are starting the process of what lessons to take away from the traffic death of first-year Health Sciences student Andrea Christidis.

“This loss has been keenly felt across campus. Many people are anxious to know if anything could have prevented it, and have offered their views on the safety of campus roads and sidewalks” Gitta Kulczycki, Vice-President (Resources & Operations), told university Senate Friday, Oct. 16.

“This tragedy has prompted many to express concerns, more generally, about the volume of vehicular traffic on campus and, in particular, the implications for pedestrian and cyclist safety.”

Christidis, 18, died Friday, Oct. 9, as a result of injuries caused by a car crash. Investigators say a vehicle heading northbound on Lambton, down the hill toward the Music Building, lost control, jumped a curb and struck Christidis, who was walking on the sidewalk.

The driver, Jared DeJong, 24, of London, was arrested at the scene. He is not a student at Western. DeJong is charged with impaired driving causing death; operation of a motor vehicle over 80 mg of alcohol per 100 mL of blood causing death; and criminal negligence causing death.

His next court appearance is Nov. 3.

London Community Police Services continues to investigate the incident.

In the days after Christidis’ death, a grassroots effort called for guardrails to be installed along Western Road and other highly utilized pedestrian corridors on campus. That change.org petition has garnered nearly 3,000 signatures, thus far.

“Every incident that raises safety concerns on our campus, and certainly this one, is reviewed relative to policies, procedures and surrounding circumstances,” Kulczycki said. “Once London Police has completed its investigation, and shared with us what they are able, we will undertake this review.”

That review will include consultation with traffic experts to identify potential measures the university can introduce to enhance the safety of the campus for everyone.