Friday marks four years since Charlotte Van Valkenburg of Bend was killed by a drunk driver in British Columbia. That driver was sentenced to prison this week.
Charlotte and her cousin Curtis Bartley were vacationing on Vancouver Island, driving north on Island Highway, when the driver struck and killed them both.
33-year-old Kyle Rodney O’Callaghan was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday.
“We’re very thankful that after four years, it’s finally been resolved.,” said Dale Van Valkenburg, who was married to Charlotte for 32 years. “The other driver, he pled guilty. He’s accepted responsibility. He’s very remorseful and I truly hope he can make the best of his life going forward.”
Robotics is part of the legacy Charlotte left behind in Central Oregon, involved in expanding programs for years. She coached Summit High’s Chaos Theory team.
“She loved it. She loved the competition. She loved the organization. She loved mentoring kids,” Dale said. “She was very much into outreach with the team and trying to reach smaller schools and schools with less resources and students with less resources and trying to provide opportunities for them.”
Scot Breese coached alongside Charlotte and helped her expand the program.
“Many of the students that ran across Charlotte saw her not only as a mentor, as a coach, but also one of those adult role models,” Brees said.
If you visit Farmstead 12 near Northwest Crossing in Bend, you can find a plaque bearing Charlotte’s name. An architect by trade, she was instrumental in planning the 12 unique farm-style homes.
“The plaque really says it that she architected a community where people connect and that this is such a great representation of what she did on her personal life that extended into the community,” Brees said.
The plaque also features four original sketches she made.
“She was very connected to so many adults and so many kids,” Brees said. “It’s been a long grieving process, and we were blessed to have known her. The legacy that she has left is really what we continue to honor.”
In 2019, Brooks Resources, Bend-La Pine Schools and the Van Valkenburg family came together to establish a memorial fund in her honor. It continues to offer financial support to high school robotics groups across Central Oregon.
“She was incredibly well known and well-loved in the community, I’m always amazed by how many people they know who I am because I have the same last name that she does,” Dale Van Valkenburg said.