Ontario couple involved in motorcycle crash calls for driver caution

It’s a scene that first responders are all too familiar with at this time of year; a motorcyclist seriously injured after a collision with a larger vehicle.

On the evening of March 27, Jeff Tugwood and Brydget Van Lankveld were just ending a night out, says friend Eleni McGowans, “They are brand new parents and this particular evening Jeff’s mom was watching their son, so they were going out on a date night.”

Jeff was driving his motorcycle that Saturday night; Brydget was his passenger.

They were heading home, east on Oxford Street in London, Ont. The bike traveled into an intersection on a green light when a taxi made a left turn into their path.

Jeff crashed through the front windshield; Brydget flew over the top of the taxi travelling about 20 feet through the air.

Now they’re effectively confined to their apartment, focusing on rehabilitation.

“Just recovering at this point,” says Jeff. “Taking it day by day,” adds Brydget.

McGowans calls the couple the kindest people she knows, now she and others are returning that kindness, helping the couple care for three-month-old son Keegan.

Both can hold him for short lengths of time, but Brydget says they need help with other duties, “We can’t carry him from one place to the other so it’s definitely a team effort to get his diaper changed or, if it’s possible, get him down for a nap.”

As of the end of August last year, OPP had reported 25 motorcycle fatalities in the province for 2020. That was up from 16 the year before; a 60 per cent increase.

One of the concerns is what riders call ‘bike blindness,’ where drivers simply don’t seem to be able to see a motorcycle.

Jeff says many riders he knows have experienced it, “I ride with a lot of people in London. It’s one of the biggest things that we see. We’re just invisible on the road.”

Const. Jeff Hare with the Ontario Provincial Police says concern for others on the roadways should be a priority for all drivers.

“Everybody has a part to play. Whether it’s a person on the motorcycle driving properly. Whether it’s the people in the cars being aware of their surroundings. When you do your shoulder check, maybe do a second shoulder check. We preach that all the time.”

Hare says people have to think of the consequences and make safe driving a priority, “When you strike somebody on a motorcycle it tends to be the occupant of the motorcycle that’s going to hospital.”

McGowans has started a GoFundMe page for Tugwood and Van Lankveld to help during the recovery from their injuries, which they’ve been told could take up to a year.