In late June, the mainstream media was filled with reports about a man who embodied all that is good about our industry. Sadly, he will never read those articles, which touted 48-year-old David Virgoe as a hero who saved multiple lives by selflessly steering his tractor-trailer into a ditch.
You may be familiar with the story. He died in a ditch along Hwy. 400 in Ontario after three alleged street racers cut him off and forced him to take evasive action.
After colliding with the center guardrail, Virgoe steered his truck out of the path of oncoming traffic and into the ditch where he died instantly.
It’s a tragic story – but Virgoe’s family is determined the veteran driver with a clean driving record will not have died in vain.
I recently called his wife Debbie as she and her family were settling into their new home. It’s not the type of call you ever want to make, but she has been friendly to the media since the accident, in hopes her plight can bring about change. The Virgoe family has not shied away from the press – instead they have chosen to call for action to make our roadways safer.
As children played in the background, Debbie described her husband as a trucker’s trucker.
He loved the job and went to great lengths to ensure customers were happy.
By all accounts, he was an exemplary driver and he had won numerous safety awards over the course of his 26-year driving career.
He received equal praise for his qualities as a human being. Those who knew him best all spoke of a kind man who put the needs of others ahead of his own.
The fact he put his own life at risk to keep from hurting others comes as no surprise to Debbie.
“It didn’t surprise me he’d do that if he thought he was going to hurt somebody,” she told me. “I don’t think he knew he’d die, but I honestly believe he ditched his truck because he didn’t want to hurt anybody.”
Members of the Virgoe family have become crusaders of sorts, calling on government to get tough on street racers. David’s brother has been lobbying the province to post more signs along the highways with the *OPP number – a phone number drivers can punch into their cell to report dangerous drivers to police.
“I don’t know if it would have made a difference that day,” she admits, but with numerous drivers having witnessed the accused racers driving recklessly before the accident, she wonders if it could have been prevented had there been more awareness about the number.
She also vows to keep a close eye on the trials of the accused, to ensure justice is done. Nothing can be done to bring back David, who left behind a family of three grown children and five grandchildren.
However, let’s hope his death brings about change: Stricter enforcement; harsher sentences for convicted street racers; and a heightened awareness about the dangers of street racing.
The family has set up a Web site at www.davidvirgoe.org where they will update visitors on their progress as they fight to bring an end to street racing.
– James Menzies can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6896 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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