An 18-year-old Mission lacrosse player was killed last Saturday in a single vehicle crash on Stave Lake Road, just north of Ferndale Avenue.
Mikey James Vukovic was a top scorer with the Ridge Meadows Burrards intermediate A team and popular among his peers.
Saphira Evans-Young described her friend as “a pretty nice guy,” who cracked jokes and made everyone smile.
They both attended Mission Secondary School and became friends this past year in English class, despite past differences.
“He changed the way I looked at things,” said Evans-Young. “He taught me you have to forgive to be happy.”
Evans-Young said she felt horrible when she heard about her friend’s death on the day it occurred. Memories of her own collision about a year earlier at the same location came flooding back.
She was a passenger in a car last fall when the driver “came around the corner on (Ferndale Avenue) a little funky, turned right, and just drove off the road.”
That stretch of Stave Lake Street is a dangerous one, said Evans-Young, whose claim was supported by several others on Facebook this week.
She is organizing an online petition to draw attention to Stave Lake Street, which she describes as “notorious in Mission for speeding.” She believes the “bumps” in the road need to be fixed, and she is encouraging drivers to be careful and courteous. The petition is available at www.ipetitions.com/petition/fix-stave-lake-street.
According to ICBC statistics, one crash was reported at that intersection last year, and there have been three others since 2009.
Mission Mounties say there has not been a fatality recorded in the area in the past 10 years.
The intersection at Cedar Valley Connector and Lougheed Highway was Mission’s highest crash location in 2013 with 89 reported incidents.
Last weekend’s fatal accident happened around 2:30 p.m.
Witnesses told police the blue 1988 Mazda RX7 convertible was travelling northbound when it appeared to hit a bump on the road and crash into the ditch. The vehicle then rolled over several times.
“Speed is believed to be a factor,” said Mission RCMP Sgt. Shaun Wright, who noted witnesses reported seeing the vehicle pass another car at a high speed prior to the crash.
The driver, who was the only occupant in the vehicle, was determined to be deceased at the scene, added Wright.
A coroner attended and the RCMP Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service assisted in the investigation.
Police were not concerned about traffic safety in the area prior to Saturday’s crash, according to Wright.
“After any fatal collision, the police examine all factors which may have contributed to the incident, including road design and condition.”
Mission Mayor Ted Adlem explained the bumps and dips of the road are due to the terrain.
“It’s truly unfortunate a young fellow lost his life, but it’s clear speed was an issue,” said Adlem. “It’s disingenuous to blame the District of Mission for a dangerous road when you don’t obey the speed limit … any road in the District of Mission is a dangerous one if you go way over the (speed) limit.”
Adlem doesn’t believe the road is dangerous, but has asked staff to look into putting a four-way stop at the intersection of Stave Lake Street and Ferndale Avenue. He would also like to see police in the area enforcing the speed limit.
A funeral service for Vukovic will be held at Saint Joseph Catholic Church, 32550 Seventh Avenue in Mission on Friday, Aug. 29 at 11 a.m.
Anyone who played lacrosse with him is encouraged to wear a team jersey in tribute to him.
In lieu of flowers, his family has asked that donations be made to Mission Minor Lacrosse.
With files from Maple Ridge News