“I FORGIVE THE DRIVER,” HUSBAND SAYS
NORTH OKANAGAN - The husband of a beloved traffic flagger who died after being hit by a car while on the job says he has been overwhelmed by the community’s kindness.
Isabelle ‘Belle’ Bourroughs’ husband Gord received a cheque today, Jan. 5, from Gerry Shook, a B.C. Transit worker and chief shop steward for the Vernon-Shuswap branch.
As transit drivers, Shook says his organization gets to know the region’s traffic control people, if not by name, by face. When Belle Bourroughs, 66, a flagger with more than 30 years of experience, was struck by a car on Highway 6 and fatally injured, Shook says he and his co-workers were shocked and saddened.
“It’s a loss. It’s a face that won’t be there anymore,” he says.
Local transit drivers, office staff and mechanics decided to chip in and come up with a donation for Belle’s family to help with expenses and show their support. Alongside the donations from local workers, Shook says UNIFOR Local 114, their union, also matched the funds. The company Belle worked for isn't in the union, but that didn't matter, Shook says.
“It’s about peers working side by side. We work hand in hand with these groups,” Shook says.
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He says transit drivers greatly appreciate traffic flaggers, and always exchange a smile and a wave. They also understand, and see firsthand, the dangers on the road, he says.
“For us it was just a matter of reaching out to Gord and his family and letting him know that we’re another one of those groups that interacted with his wife on a regular basis, and that her missing face will matter,” Shook says.
Gord says the cheque — and the sentiment behind it — means a lot.
“It’s uplifting,” he says.
He’s hoping Belle’s passing will wake people up to the importance of paying attention to road workers.
“I’d like to say I forgive the driver and want him to carry on with his life, but I want him to be more aware and pass it on to other people,” Gord says.
He says Belle had a large family and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.
“The sad part of it is the grandkids won’t get to see their grandma anymore,” he says.
For Belle’s long time friend and fellow flagger Traci Jeeves, the owner of Okanagan Traffic Control, the kind words and support from Shook and the transit workers was extremely touching.
“It’s almost like an affirmation that we are being seen,” Jeeves says.
She says it goes to show that safety is paramount for all those who work on the road.
“Be more aware of road workers, not just flag people, but everyone,” she says.
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