Chatham-Kent mourns 3 young people killed in Wallaceburg crash

A Chatham-Kent police cruiser pictured in a 2023 file photo.  (Chatham-Kent Police Service - image credit)
A Chatham-Kent police cruiser pictured in a 2023 file photo. (Chatham-Kent Police Service - image credit)

The community of Chatham-Kent is grieving three young people killed in a car crash over the weekend.

On Tuesday, police identified those who died as Victoria Baertsoen, 24, Matthew Cousins, 24, and Shae-Lynn Bachus, 23, all of Wallaceburg, Ont.

Aaron Hall, a Chatham-Kent councillor representing Wallaceburg, said the tight-knit community was "rocked" by the crash.

"It was sudden and a devastating tragedy, and my heart really aches for the family and friends we lost," Hall said. "We lost three young people."

'We'll be there for each other'

Hall described the young adults in the crash as full of energy, positivity and love, having met them and their families in the community.

"We support each other and with this incident we'll be there for each other and we'll be there for each other with compassion and understanding and love," he said. "(We) always stick together, in good times and bad.

"Obviously this is a difficult time for our community, but we're going to stand together, we're going to be there for each other ... we'll ... be there for the families."

Flags will be at half mast at the Wallaceburg Municipal Centre from Tuesday through the weekend, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent said in a media release. Council will have a moment of silence during its meeting on May 29 to honour those lost.

"This is heart-breaking news," Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff said in a statement. "As a community we sit in shock and grief thinking of the families, friends and CK staff who are suffering an unthinkable loss."

Collision took place Sunday night

Chatham-Kent police say the collision involved a car and a semi-tanker truck.

Emergency personnel responded to the crash on McNaughton Avenue shortly before 10 p.m. ET. on Sunday.

Two others in the vehicle were also injured, one of whom has a life-threatening injury. Police said Tuesday her condition has stabilized but remains serious.

The driver of the semi-tanker truck suffered minor injuries and was transported to a local hospital.

Brian Horrobin, a pastor at First Baptist Church who has kids around the ages of the victims, said he and another pastor are looking to put together a service for the community to come together and pray for the families.

"Just for people to come and gather and process a little bit and and pray for the families and the situation," Horrobin said, adding details would be forthcoming.