St. Thomas firefighter killed in motorcycle crash

A St. Thomas firefighter has been identified as the man killed in a motorcycle crash near St. Thomas Thursday night.

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A St. Thomas firefighter has been identified as the man killed in a motorcycle crash Thursday night.

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Nicholas Cheeseman, 34, of Port Stanley, died at the scene after the motorcycle he was driving collided with another vehicle at the intersection of Elm Street and Coulter Avenue just outside of St. Thomas around 8:30 p.m., Elgin OPP said.

Cheeseman was a firefighter with the St. Thomas fire department for four years, said Kim Destun, chief prevention officer.

“We’re still processing (the news),” she said. “It was devastating. We’re a fairly small and close-knit department. . . . We just hope to support the family in any way we can.”

The crash came on the same day the OPP held a news conference to sound the alarm on rising motorcycle fatalities in the region so far this year.

Thursday’s fatal crash brings this year’s motorcycle death toll to 13 on OPP-patrolled roads in the West Region, an area that encompasses Southwestern Ontario, compared to seven to date last year in the area.

In this year’s fatal crashes, motorcyclists have been at fault in 70 per cent of the collisions, prompting the OPP to urge riders to take extra safety precautions on the roads.

“As you can see, we have a problem with deadly consequences,” Insp. Shawn Johnson of OPP West Region’s traffic and marine unit said at the Thursday news conference.

This year’s death toll is still below the all-time high in 2016, when there were 19 motorcycle fatalities in the West Region. The lowest tally, seven deaths, was recorded in 2012.

cleon@postmedia.com

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