Posted on May 22, 2011


By: Demetrius (Co-Founder of the OCPRS Toronto,Canada)

When the reports of a ghost and haunted house were first examined, the question of whether or not there was any paranormal activity on Kirby Road was of primary importance. The purpose of the Kirby Road investigation quickly shifted from paranormal research to exposing yet another urban legend. The research broadened to include the real life tragedy of Selina Degasperis. After having visited Selina’s roadside memorial, it became apparent that the investigation was going to be very different from what and how the OCPRS is accustomed to investigating. The urban legends that made use of Selina’s death didn’t seem appropriate. Restoring the dignity and respect of a young girl who lost her life in a car accident became much more important than any paranormal research.

     Some may argue that the investigation conducted by the OCPRS is just as exploitative as the urban legends surrounding Selina’s tragedy. However, when the details of the accident came to light, what really motivated the investigation was to make people aware of the foolishness and indignity that urban legends can have on real life tragedies. The fact that urban legends perpetuate misconceptions about the afterlife also became a secondary concern. The urban legends which do exploit Selina’s tragedy needed to be exposed.

     Most reports of ghosts or haunted locations are based on real life tragedies. In some cases, such inclusions can be regarded as exploitative. Although most stories do not do this intentionally, the very real people involved in such stories somehow get pushed into the background, and all that remains is an unhealthy fascination with “ghosts” and the occult. For most people, Selina may only represent a ghost story to frighten school children or to fascinate superstitious adults. However, the fact remains that she was someone’s sister, daughter, or friend. Intentional or not, these urban legends and others like them have neglected to take into account the harm they may cause to other people. The friends and family of Selina are most likely painfully aware of these urban legends.

     The Kirby Road urban legends could not be supported by any evidence. No records could be located to support any murder taking place at the so-called “Hell House.” No physical evidence has been produced by any paranormal investigators other than supposed eye-witness accounts. Without any physical evidence, the “Hell House” story, reports of an apparition of a little girl, a phantom truck, etc. cannot be considered evidence. More importantly, Selina has nothing to do with these urban legends and her tragedy is an entirely different set of circumstances. Even if there was some truth to these urban legends, the fact remains that Selina has nothing to do with them. Why then is Selina associated to any of the urban legends surrounding Kirby Road? Perhaps the roadside memorial – a tombstone – has provided lasting impressions on people travelling Kirby Road. After all, a tombstone is meant to mark a grave. It is not a common practice to use a tombstone for a roadside memorial. Yet, even if such a roadside memorial stirred the imagination, the tombstone only identifies Selina, her date of birth and death, and an epitaph that reads: “I’m a cute kid.” Strangely, the dates identified on the tombstone are ignored when associating Selina to urban legends like “Hell House,” which supposedly took place long before the auto accident or her birth.

     Some attempts have been made to blame the accident on supernatural activity, but any such explanation ignores the fact that all versions of the “Hell House” urban legend only emerged after the accident. Furthermore, according to a Toronto Star newspaper article, an explanation of what happened was provided by police; the minivan drove onto the shoulder and then lost control. This is not uncommon on the roadways. The rational explanation seems to be ignored by people who prefer to assign something supernatural to otherwise ordinary, although unfortunate, incidents. Urban legends seem to distract people from reality and turn them away from the truth of circumstances that would otherwise make them feel vulnerable in their own mortality. If so, is this how people cope with tragedy? What people fear is often transformed into something less than real, and this is precisely what urban legends do. Of course, the reasons for such urban legends are many, but the fact remains that most do emerge from real tragedies. There is always an underlying truth to myths, and urban legends are no different.

     In Selina’s case, how do such stories reflect on her life? The urban legends that have emerged from her tragic death do not demonstrate any sensitivity or empathy for her or to those who knew her. Although the OCPRS investigation of Kirby Road began with reports of ghosts and a haunted house, the only conclusions that were made are that Selina’s memory has been tarnished by these ridiculous urban legends. The very real tragedy of a young girl was at first a story of interest that seemed to give substance to the urban legends. As the investigation progressed, Selina was no longer just a part of a story, but was a very real person. She became the only real and significant person among all the sordid stories. What happened to her was a great tragedy to those who knew her. She doesn’t deserve to be associated to these horrible urban legends. The least anyone can do for her is to respect who she really was, and not what these urban legends claim.

     If anyone should ever go to Selina’s roadside memorial they may find flowers placed there, possibly left there by friends and family. What the flowers showed the OCPRS was that Selina’s real life story has not been forgotten by those who knew her. What remains there on Kirby Road is not a “ghost,” but the memory of young girl who continues to be loved by friends and family. One can only imagine the hurt these foolish urban legends have caused. It is for this reason that the OCPRS needed to research and investigate the paranormal claims made by people. In doing so, all that remains is the truth about Selina.

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