Although a constant reminder of their loss, the families of Skye and Courtney Buck hope new guardrails on the Yellowhead Highway will prevent others from experiencing the grief they do.
Her voice filled with emotion, Tracy Buck read a prepared statement to The Daily News on Wednesday saying the Buck and Dekelver families are glad the province has erected barriers at Wolf’s Corner, 16 kilometres south of Clearwater.
“We are happy that other travellers will be safer as a result of the tragedy that we continue to endure,” she said during a phone interview.
Buck and her husband Brent have seen the new guardrails where the vehicle occupied by their son Skye and pregnant daughter-in-law Courtney left the highway last December and crashed into the North Thompson River.
She said they will serve as a constant reminder of their loss.
“You wonder if they’d have been there earlier,” Buck said as her sentenced trailed off.
The upgrades to Wolf’s Corner are part of a larger provincial effort to improve highway safety, said Clearwater Mayor John Harwood.
The province is installing guardrails on sections of road with a steep dropoff, he said. A section of Yellowhead near the Sun Peaks turnoff is also scheduled to have barriers installed.
He said the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is developing a five-year plan to install the barriers, but rural politicians have pushed for something to be done for a long time.
“That one, just past the turnoff to Sun Peaks, is wicked,” said Harwood.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Transportation said guardrails will be installed at two sections of highway near Heffley Creek in September.
Nearly $190,000 worth of barriers will be erected in the Kamloops area, she said in an email.
The Bucks’ vehicle was found in four metres of water, about 20 metres from shore a day after it left the highway. Skye’s body was found inside the vehicle. He was a teacher at Clearwater secondary and Courtney taught at Raft River elementary. They were expecting their first child, a boy.
Harwood said the deaths punched a hole in the community and many people, especially the couple’s students, still feel the loss.
“There’s definitely a very strong, hurt feeling and a residual feeling that this caused a lot of trauma for a lot of people,” he said. “The high school kids have noticed it a great deal.”
He said people talk about Skye and Courtney as a family that had a vision for breathing life into the community in terms of sports and lifestyle.