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One year on, police probe into Oak Bay worker’s death goes on

Steve Seekins was working over a manhole cover on Monterey Avenue on May 17, 2023 when a black SUV jumped the curb and struck and killed him

Fresh flowers and potted spring plants mark the place where Steve Seekins died on the job in Oak Bay a year ago.

The municipal worker was working over a manhole cover on Monterey Avenue on May 17, 2023, when a black SUV jumped the curb and hit Seekins. The 52-year-old father of two young children died at the scene.

More than a year later, no charges have been laid against the driver, a 66-year-old Victoria woman who hasn’t been publicly named.

The Saanich police Major Crimes Unit and Oak Bay police continue to investigate.

“It’s a complex investigation that involves multiple witnesses and many facets,” Oak Bay Police Chief Mark Fisher said Tuesday.

Fisher said several witnesses — including pedestrians, area residents and municipal workers — had to be interviewed, and video evidence had to be collected and reviewed.

He said the investigation requires ongoing discussions with WorkSafeBC and ICBC, as well as engaging with the legal team representing the driver and consultations with Crown counsel.

An update on the case is expected after consultations with the Crown are complete.

A spokesman for Saanich police said last week an update could be coming soon.

WorkSafeBC and the B.C. Coroners Service opened their own investigations into the death, but have not released their reports while the police investigation is in progress.

The driver of the SUV had to be helped out of her wrecked vehicle by paramedics and was treated in hospital.

After striking Seekins, who was working behind bright orange signs and cones, the vehicle veered into a large cedar tree near the Oak Bay Police Department building.

Police at the time of the crash had received reports of erratic driving on Monterey Avenue and had asked witnesses to come forward.

The vehicle was reported to be travelling at high speed, allegedly weaving into oncoming traffic and nearly hitting a child on a bicycle.

Seekins had only started working for the District of Oak Bay a few months before, after moving his young family from Alberta in 2022.

Fisher said the Oak Bay and Saanich police departments have been in contact with Seekins’ wife, Kathy, and other family members.

“It’s been difficult to watch what they’ve been through. It’s been very hard on them with young children involved,” said Fisher.

Fundraising campaigns for the Seekins family have generated about $150,000 so far, according to organizers.

CUPE Local 374, which represents Oak Bay municipal workers, is also collecting money to assist the family.

Seekins’ death has shaken many municipal staff, who considered him a friend. It’s also been a reminder of the potential dangers they face working outdoors.

“It really affected many of our outside crew, and realizing the safety needed for workers when they are outside on the road,” Shireen Clark, president of CUPE Local 374, told CHEK News.

“And awareness in some of our smaller municipalities that may not have a ton of staff.”

From 2014 to 2023, nine workers in B.C. were killed and another 251 injured severely enough to miss work due to roadside incidents with vehicles, according to WorkSafeBC statistics.

Last week, Road Safety at Work — a WorkSafeBC-funded initiative supported by dozens of road-related businesses and workers — launched its Cone Zone campaign urging drivers to slow down to protect roadside workers.

Work zones and traffic volumes increase during the spring and summer.

The campaign reminds drivers to avoid speeding and aggressive and distracted driving and to obey flag persons and traffic signs.

“Every time you drive through a roadside work zone in the Greater Victoria area, you’re not just passing cones and barriers. You’re in someone’s workplace,” said Trace Acres, program director for Road Safety at Work. “Just like you, these workers deserve to be safe in their workplace. Slow down and pay attention.

“Work zones are temporary, but our actions behind the wheel can last forever.”

Roadside workers are in a vulnerable position with traffic passing within metres. They include traffic control persons, road maintenance crews, utility workers, landscapers, paramedics and police officers, tow operators, waste collectors, and many more.

Acres said every shift, they are at risk of being struck by vehicles.

Penalties for unsafe driving in work zones range from $121 to $368.

For information on donating to help the Seekins family, contact the CUPE local 374 office at 250-472-0374.

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