The siblings of a woman who died in a crash on the Queen Elizabeth Way in Burlington Ont. last week are remembering their younger sister as a free spirit who lived her 24 years “just running” and chasing her dreams.
Courtney Duguay, originally from Owen Sound, Ont., was one of two people who died following a four-vehicle collision in the early morning of Jan. 26.
“It's still pretty shocking,” her sister Brittany Fobert told CTV News Toronto. “It didn't even cross my mind that I'd ever have to bury a younger sibling.”
“You know your grandparents or your parents, you expect to have to experience that loss at some point, but a younger sister, you don't ever expect to lose.”
According to police, a Mitsubishi Lancer crossed over from the westbound lanes to the eastbound lanes on the QEW and struck two other vehicles at Brand Street, while a fourth car rolled into a ditch.
Duguay was a passenger in the Mitsubishi Lancer. She and 23-year-old Kitchener resident Ceara Publuske, who was driving the vehicle, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Three other people were transported to the hospital with various injuries. Investigators have not released any further details surrounding the circumstances of the crash.
According to Duguay’s family, she had been was staying with her dad in Niagara Region through the winter holidays and the month of January. On the day she died, she had been picked up by a friend with the intent of staying in Kitchener for a week before heading back to Toronto for a job interview.
Duguay had moved from Owen Sound to Toronto in June 2019, something her family said was a dream of hers from a very young age.
“She would almost like talk about it excessively,” Brittany Fobert said. “I think she loved being in the heart of the city, even just the rustle and bustle of the subway and everything.”
Duguay has been described by her siblings as someone who was outgoing, kind and adventurous. Brittany Fobert told CTV News Toronto that on a visit to Toronto prior to her move, her sister chatted with a server at a Boston Pizza and left with a job—setting her up for her first year in the big city.
“She would talk to anyone,” her sister said. ‘It literally just made me so proud… when she was working at Boston Pizza she would go outside for her break and she'd order a pizza for her break or whatever and then like, she would like see a homeless person and just give them her pizza.”
“She didn't discriminate,” her other sister Tiffany Fobert added. “It didn't matter if you had one dollar or a million dollars, she would talk to you. She would care about your day.”
Tiffany Fobert said that on the day her sister died, she had picked up the book “Little Woman.” She told CTV News Toronto that there were character traits from each character that reminded her of her sister—Duguay had Jo’s thirst for adventure, Beth’s nurturing personality, and Amy’s sassy spirit.
“I just remember our childhood, it was sisterhood,” Tiffany Fobert said. “It was that story, but it wasn't that story. And, I mean, everyone doesn't get that, and I got that. It brings me a lot of comfort because she really did, she made a lot of people's lives fuller for being here.”
Friends of Duguay’s have made similar statements—that she was outgoing, made everyone smile and had a deep love of animals, especially dogs.
“Everybody she met, or even passed, she would show all the love she could,” Agella Kodopulos said last week. “She believed that every day she was growing, evolving, and learning new things about herself and life. She never stopped being happy and wanting to spread joy.”
“She has a tattoo that says ‘tomorrow is never promised’ and that’s been hitting me all day. I’m planning on getting the same one.”
Her sister said that Duguay had a lot of tattoos—more than she probably let on—but that so many of them were representative of the people she loved and the positive outlook she had on life.
“She had one on her collarbone and it says “every little thing is gonna be all right,” that's obviously Bob Marley quote, and then on her arm she has “one day at a time.” On her abdomen, it says “never stopped dreaming.”
Duguay’s family and friends said she constantly worked at bettering herself and finding new passions. When she was laid off at Boston Pizza due to COVID-19, she took up photography. Brittany Fobert said that she would send 50 photos at a time of buildings and places around Toronto and that she was thinking of saving up for a camera.
“At least that I am able to flip through those photos and just kind of think of her,” Brittany Fobert said.
Whether it’s a fond memory of a hike or a nearly daily phone call on a walk, her family and friends say that Duguay lived life to the fullest, and will always be remembered for her kind and positive spirit.
“I feel like it is a really, really sad time but at the same time she was 24 years and she lived them, like running,” Tiffany Fobert said. “Yeah, she lived her years just running.”