Senior Woman Second Pedestrian Fatality In Week

This story originally appeared in the Vaughan Citizen.

For the second time in exactly a week, two pedestrians have been killed in traffic accidents along Rutherford road.

A 76-year-old woman was struck and killed near Hwy. 400 and Rutherford Road by a white van on Jan. 19, exactly seven days after the death of 17-year-old Steven Seixeiro just a few blocks away at Keele Street and Rutherford road. The woman has yet to be identified.

Police said the elderly woman was walking across the intersection from the south side to the north side at Canada’s Wonderland Drive and Rutherford Road.

As she was crossing the six lanes of Rutherford Road, at some point the light turned green for westbound traffic.

Police said the woman was carrying groceries as she tried to hurry across the road, but did not make it in time and was hit by a white 2005 GMC Safari van in the third lane.

Police said cars in the first two lanes had stalled to let her pass, but as she stepped out from behind a vehicle she was struck by the van that had not seen her enter the third lane.

The woman’s injuries were initially life-threatening, but after being rushed to Sunnybrook Hospital she was announced dead. The driver, a 27-year-old Brantford man, suffered no injuries.

Police say weather conditions were clear and the roads were fairly dry when the accident occurred. Thus far there has been no indication of impaired driving. It appears to be a case of a pedestrian not being able to cross the road in the crosswalk’s allotted time.

The ongoing issue has pushed local politicians such as Kleinburg/Maple councillor Peter Meffe to spring to action. Mr. Meffe called for a Jan. 22 meeting to look into creating a pedestrian safety task force in Vaughan.

“We have to start timing our intersection lights in a way that will provide opportunity for pedestrians to have right of way,” he said. “It’s not enough to say we’ll give them a chance.”

Mr. Meffe said that a number of traffic issues have him concerned, and the city needs to seriously re-evaluate its traffic regulations and road engineering.

“What occurred can not only be the fault of the pedestrian,” he said.

The Citizen has learned that the crosswalk at nearby Jane Street and Rutherford Road gives the pedestrian 32 seconds to cross from start to finish. The crossing is 42 metres. A healthy reporter from the Citizen was barely able to fully make it across in the alloted time while walking at a fairly fast pace.

Sgt. Ed Villamere, traffic safety education supervisor for York Regional Police, offered a few safety tips for both drivers and pedestrians.

For drivers, he said the most important point by far is to remain attentive on the road. He said that even though tasks like a telephone call or text can take only a few seconds, that is all it takes to end a life.

For pedestrians, Mr. Villamere said that it’s important not to jaywalk even when it seems there is ample time to cross. In addition, he recommended pedestrians make eye contact with drivers and to never assume that they can see you.

In addition, he recommended pedestrians are conscious of their clothing, especially when wearing articles such as hoods that obstruct peripheral vision.

“You want to cross like your life depends on it, because a lot of the time it does,” he said.

Charges are still pending against the driver of the vehicle. Police say criminal charges are unlikely.

“The driver has been very co-operative,” Const. Paul Diceman said. “He was very distraught about the whole thing.”

Aircon Mechanical Services Inc, the Newmarket company that owns the van, declined to comment.

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