Crash kills KDSS teacher


By Josh Howald

It's a sombre day in the halls of Kincardine District Secondary School.

The flag is at half mast in honour of Michelle Taylor, a popular teacher who was killed yesterday in a tragic crash on Highway 9.

Michelle Taylor, seen here at the OFHSA banquet in 2010. (Independent file photo)

The South-Bruce OPP received a report of a head-on crash at 4:03 p.m. yesterday (Tuesday). Upon arrival, they discovered both vehicles - a burgundy Ford pick-up truck and Taylor's grey Buick Regal - at rest in the ditch south of the roadway.

The Lucknow Fire Department, as well as paramedics from Huron and Bruce County, attended the scene, between Bervie and Kinloss. The driver of the pick-up truck was transported to Kincardine hospital, as was a passenger in Taylor's Buick, for assessment of non-life threatening injuries.

Taylor, 53, was pronounced dead on the scene. She was a beloved figure at KDSS for more than 25 years. She was named Teacher of the Year two year by the Ontario Federation of Home and School Associations (OFHSA) in 2010. A favourite with students and staff alike, she was known for her friendly, caring demeanour. Husband, James, is also a teacher at KDSS. They have three children, one who attends the school.

"Everybody is banding together," said principal Randall de Kraker early this afternoon.

"Obviously we have had better days, but classes are continuing and we're dealing with this together."

The South-Bruce OPP called OPP Technical Traffic Collision investigators to the scene for assistance in piecing together the incident. Constable Kevin Martin said in a press release this morning the investigation into the cause of the crash is still in its early stages, and anybody with information should contact the South-Bruce OPP detachment or Crime Stoppers. Highway 9 was closed from Bushell Street to Bruce County Road 1 for several hours, but was re-opened to traffic early last night.

Police did not release the name of the driver in the pick-up truck, but it is thought to have been a student at KDSS, making today all the more tough for the high school's staff and students. The Bluewater District School Board sent the Crisis Response Team to the school this morning to assist as needed.

It's incredibly quiet," said a senior student this morning. "It's just awful."

de Kraker said a memorial room has been set up, and former staff members have been dropping by the school to grieve with their peers. A table was erected in the front lobby to allow people to write condolences and notes that will be sent to the Taylor family.

The school will hold some sort of memorial to celebrate Taylor's life, said de Kraker, but no plans have been made.

"We haven't reached that point yet," he said. "It's been thought about, but we haven't really figured out what, or how, we want to do this."

Funeral arrangements for Taylor had not been confirmed as of Wednesday afternoon.

Tributes for the mother, wife and teacher have been flooding facebook and twitter as students look for ways to mourn. Students have started a facebook tribute page which can be found at!/pages/We-will-always-cherish-the-time-we-had-with-you-Michelle-Taylor/349130095153313?notif_t=fbpage_fan_invite

The Independent will have the full story in next week's print edition.

- Josh Howald