Two prominent educators among four killed in weekend crashes

October 1, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Two separate crashes on Dufferin County highways last weekend took a total of four lives, including two prominent educators.

Steve Ratz, 57, former vice-principal of Westside Secondary School in Orangeville and his wife Marie Lessard, 49, a teacher at Centennial Highlands Public School in Shelburne, died Sunday night when their westbound Jeep Liberty was struck by a car that missed a stop sign on the Mono-Amaranth Townline at Dufferin Road 10 (10 Sideroad).

Also killed in the crash was the driver of the southbound Volkswagen, who was identified by Dufferin OPP as Travis Logan, 26, of Alton.

The crash, which occurred at about 11 p.m. Sunday, saw both vehicles end up in ditches and one catch fire. All three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

The other fatality occurred Saturday evening on Dufferin Road 109 near Grand Valley. Todd Zdeb, 20, of Orangeville died when his Toyota Camry was in collision with a motorhome near the 13th line of East Garafraxa. The two occupants of the motorhome were taken to Headwaters Health Care Centre with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

Mr. Ratz and Ms. Lessard were both employed by the Upper Grand District School Board.

Bob Borden, the board’s Orangeville  trustee and former chair, said Monday that both were highly valued educators.

“Yesterday, the Board lost two fine educators in Marie Lessard and Steve Ratz. Students and staff across the Board are mourning their loss. While he recently worked in Guelph, Steve was also an educational leader at both of Orangeville’s high schools, and Marie was a long-standing member of Centennial Highlands in Shelburne. Our thoughts and prayers are extended to their sons and family at this difficult time.”

Maggie McFadzen, the board’s communications director, said their tragic deaths were a profound loss to their schools’ staffs and students.

Previously the scene of another fatality, the intersection between Dufferin 10 and the recently paved Mono-Amaranth Townline is a two-way stop for north-south traffic, unlike three other intersections on the townline which are four-way stops despite a relative absence of cross-traffic.

OPP Traffic Collision Investigators were on the scene of both crashes, with the roads in question being closed for several hours.

Dufferin OPP communications officer Paul Nancekivell said that while the investigators’ report on the triple fatality may recommend new safety measures at the intersection and the report will be forwarded to the road authorities it may not be released to the public because of the possibility of civil litigation.

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