Kamloops cyclist was 'embraced by every community he was a part of' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Kamloops News

Kamloops cyclist was 'embraced by every community he was a part of'

Andrew van der Westhuizen was a father and an avid cyclist who died of his injuries on June 30, 2022, after spending seven weeks in intensive care.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Jennifer van der Westhuizen

There's nothing keeping Jennifer van der Westhuizen and her kids in Kamloops anymore.

Her husband, Andrew van der Westhuizen, died last week, seven weeks after he collided with a commercial truck while riding her bicycle.

He was riding down Highland Road on a multi-use path when the truck crossed in front of him on May 11. The road is the only way in or out of the Juniper Ridge neighbourhood, where the van der Westhuizen family lived.

If Jennifer were to stay there with her two young children, she'd have to pass the scene of the accident everyday.

"I knew that if Andrew wasn't coming home with us, Kamloops wouldn't be home for us," she said.

READ MORE: Kamloops physician succumbs to injuries from cycling crash

Since the day he was airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital, van der Westhuizen said an outpouring of support from family and longtime friends to acquaintances they'd only known for days overwhelmed her and showed just how special her husband was.

"He's had so many small interactions that have been meaningful to people," she said. "He was embraced by every community he was a part of."

She said this last year was the "best we've had as a family." After living in Vancouver condos and Andrew's parents' basement in Victoria while the pair went through school, he finally became a radiologist and landed a job in Kamloops.

They moved into a house in Juniper Ridge last year, where the family prepared to set down their roots.

van der Westhuizen said her husband was an avid cyclist, whether it was on the road, mountain biking or on a stationary bike.

"He had too many bikes, and he always had the next one in the works," she said, which became a point of contention in the house.

READ MORE: West Kelowna family outraged after random, violent attack on teen son

Since the collision, she's now concerned about cycling safety in Kamloops after the pair spent years bike-commuting in both Vancouver and Victoria.

"I wasn't interested in a human interest story, but I could be an advocate for things that have come up for us," she said on her first radio interview with CBC.

While she's been busy with the administrative work in the house since he died, the collision sparked a rallying cry of cyclists in the city calling for improved safety.

"It's undeniable that we don't have a safe cycling culture in Kamloops. That's not to malign anybody or a specific agency — it's a fact," local cycling advocate Deb Alore told iNFOnews.ca last month.

READ MORE: Injured Kamloops cyclist puts 'exclamation point' on a city unfriendly to bikers

The truck, van der Westhuizen learned, was crossing the multi-use path onto a utility road. It was being used for ongoing construction west of the Kamloops Bike Ranch.

The path is mostly separated by a concrete barrier to keep vehicles away from cyclists and pedestrians as it meanders up the hill to Juniper Ridge. It's one of the few of its kind in Kamloops that separates cyclists from other vehicles with a concrete barrier. Roughly two-thirds of the way to the top, the concrete barrier separates for a utility access road, which is where the commercial truck was passing through.

To her shock, she even saw the truck in Valleyview before it turned up Highland Road the afternoon Andrew was hit.

After Andrew spent seven weeks in a Vancouver intensive care unit, where he had blood transfusions, surgeries and the "best care possible," she said he died on June 30 with family by his side while waiting for a liver transplant.

"I think we were very lucky in Vancouver that he always had one nurse to his care," she said.

She pleads with everyone to consider donating blood and organs.  

Jennifer and Andrew were together for 19 years after meeting in high school. They had one boy, who's two, and a girl, who is six. They may be too young to have many memories of their father, van der Westhuizen said.

"My blessing and my curse is I'm the only one carrying these memories," she said. "I know life will be great again, but on a very different trajectory for my children and a different life than I thought I would have."


To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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