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Empower Simcoe identifies crash victims as worker, two clients

Three injured people were part of a larger group attending last night's Barrie Colts game, says Empower Simcoe CEO
Barrie police investigate on Dec. 1, 2022 after multiple pedestrians were struck in a collision at the intersection of Mapleview Drive and Bayview Drive.

The three pedestrians struck and seriously injured by an alleged impaired driver last night near Sadlon Arena were part of a larger group outing through Empower Simcoe heading to a Barrie Colts game. All three are receiving care at a Toronto trauma centre.

A statement from Empower Simcoe, which provides services to people with physical and intellectual disabilities, confirmed one of its employees and two individuals who receive support from the organization were injured in the evening crash at Mapleview and Bayview in the city's south end. They were airlifted to hospital.  

BarrieToday spoke with Empower Simcoe chief executive officer Dr. Claudine Cousins this evening, who said the organization is reeling from the tragic news.

“They’re doing better than we could have hoped and are being taken care of at the hospital. We’re waiting on more news, of course, but so far so good I believe,” she said. “We are all thinking of them.”

The collision occurred at approximately 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 1, as fans were heading into the Barrie Colts game, which started at 7:30 p.m.

Barrie police have said the three pedestrians were struck by a vehicle traveling south on Bayview Drive. Police say the vehicle then collided with two other vehicles, whose occupants were uninjured. 

The injured pedestrians included a 53-year-old Barrie man, a 52-year-old Barrie woman and a 44-year-old man whose hometown was not available. Empower Simcoe confirmed that the woman was a staff member, while the two men were clients of the organization. 

A 32-year-old Barrie woman was arrested at the scene and has been charged with three counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

While earlier reports indicated only two people had been flown to Toronto, Cousins confirmed the third person was also. 

Cousins said Empower Simcoe is “a tight team” and working through this together. 

“Part of our responsibility is making sure that our staff have everything that they need, whether it's the (employee assistance program) and, of course, the emotional support they will need around them,” she said.

Empower Simcoe’s mission is to provide support and improve the lives of those faced with intellectual disabilities and to ensure inclusivity. The organization also says it's "truly grateful for the support shown by the Barrie community" following last night's collision. 

Cousins also said the news will be shared with other clients they serve and done so in a manner that is best for those individuals. 

“The other people who receive support that have forged friendships with those injured will be made aware and, having worked so long with some of them, we know how they best communicate," she said. "We are able to have those conversations. Everyone feels grief differently and will process this news however they need to.”

Investigators from the traffic unit are asking anyone who may have witnessed the collision, or who may have dash-cam footage from the area, to contact police at 705-725-7025.