London

'A great, great kid': Strong support from community after fatal 401 crash

Craig Spence has been identified by those close to him as the man who died in a crash between a pickup truck and transport truck. He was the captain of the Blenheim Blades, a junior ice hockey team based in the town of the same name.

Police haven't laid charges in the fatal crash

Craig Spence has been identified as the person who died in a collision on Hwy. 401 south of London, Tuesday.
Craig Spence has been identified as the person who died in a collision on Hwy. 401 south of London, Tuesday. (Provincial Junior Hockey League)

A rush of support and condolences has swept across social media and Chatham-Kent in the wake of a Tuesday crash that killed a young hockey captain from the southwestern Ontario community.

Craig Spence has been identified by those close to him as the victim who died in that crash. He was the captain of the Blenheim Blades, a junior ice hockey team based out of the town of the same name.

"He was a great, great kid. He always wanted to help. He was always there to steer our young ones in the right direction. He was a great role model and a great person," said Bob Price, the general manager of the Blenheim Blades, who said Spence was 21 years old and lived in Chatham.

Price said Spence had two siblings — a younger sister, and an older brother.

OPP were called to a crash on Hwy. 401's eastbound lanes just south of London on Tuesday at around 3:00 p.m. Once there, police reported that a transport truck and pickup truck had collided, and the driver of the pickup truck was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police closed the eastbound lanes of the highway between Colonel Talbot and Wonderland Roads for six hours while they investigated.

While police were at the scene, Price was receiving a phone call informing him of Spence's death.

"I was devastated. Craig was a big part of our team, and a huge part of the Blades family."

Spence had been with the team for more than two years, and was just as important to the community on the ice as he was off the ice, Price said.

"He was a great leader. Always there for his teammates, and for staff. He had a real passion for the sport. He talked to me about coming back and becoming a coach when he was done. He was really good at teaching."

This Friday, Spence was even set to receive two awards for his accomplishments in the sport during the team's banquet. That banquet was cancelled in light of his death.

"We just want everyone to get a bit of time before we get together."

The Blenheim Blades made social media posts memorializing Spence, which amassed thousands of views and hundreds of comments and shares by Wednesday afternoon. A GoFundMe page made by friends of the family raised more than $12,000 for Spence's family in just hours, with the grand total at $12,500 by 3 p.m., Wednesday.

"The community has been there for us, and for him," Price said. "So many people have offered to step up. The league has offered to support players or coaches with counselling."

No charges have been laid in the crash, OPP said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alessio Donnini

Reporter/Editor

Alessio is a multimedia journalist, and a London, Ont., native. Since graduating from Fanshawe College's Broadcast Journalism program, he's worked in markets from Toronto to Windsor covering breaking news and telling stories for his community and beyond. Alessio can be heard on weekday afternoons reading the news for Afternoon Drive.