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Hees a man on a mission

Gary Hees is getting signatures to improve safety for pedestrians at 196 Street and 72 Avenue where an 11-year-old boy was struck in a hit-and-run crash on Nov. 19. - Monique TAMMINGA/Langley Times
Gary Hees is getting signatures to improve safety for pedestrians at 196 Street and 72 Avenue where an 11-year-old boy was struck in a hit-and-run crash on Nov. 19.
— image credit: Monique TAMMINGA/Langley Times

Gary Hees is on a personal mission to save lives.

It’s a simple concept, really, yet it seems to be lost on many people —  especially at this time of year.

“Drive with care and we all live longer,” is a huge sign Hees made up and has on the back of his pickup truck.

He spent $1,000 making up bumper stickers with the same message and handed them  out.

“My wife thinks I’m crazy to do it, but what if that one bumper sticker makes a difference, or saves a life?” he asks.

After hearing about the 11-year-old boy who was hurt in a hit-and-run on Nov. 19 in his Clayton Heights neighbourhood, Hees was moved to action.

“It’s a suicidal corner of town,” Hees said of the area around 196 Street and 72 Avenue.

From 200 Street west to 192 Street, along 72 Avenue, there are no crosswalks and no lighted intersections.

Closer to 200 Street, the road narrows and there are ditches on either side. At 196 Street, where the boy was hit, there is no sidewalk along one side while development is going on. The other side has gravel parking for the homes, so there isn’t a sidewalk at street level either.

He also has spent time handing out VanCity bags that have reflectors on them to parents walking with strollers at 196 Street.

He has spent two cold weekends getting signatures at 196 Street and 72 Avenue, asking for a crosswalk there. He has more than 200 signatures.

He also has a binder full of information, safety suggestions and signatures which he brought to the Township. He also plans to bring a similar binder to Surrey City Hall.

The area borders both districts. He also dropped off information and a bumper sticker to Aldergrove-Fort Langley MLA Rich Coleman this weekend. Coleman’s office ordered 100 of his bumper stickers.

He plans to donate the money to victims of hit and runs.

“I’m 69 years old. I’ve (been able) to cross a lot off my bucket list, like get married, have kids and grandchildren. I want others to be able to live long enough to do all that.”

He was referring to a two-and-a-half year old Pitt Meadows boy who was killed while crossing at a crosswalk at a busy mall last month. The driver is believed to have been distracted when she killed the boy and injured the mom.

That tragedy has impacted Hees to the point that one cold night he spent hours at the crosswalk, holding his large sign asking people to drive with care.

“I had to do something. Even if I can make one person slow down, it means I did something,” said Hees.

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