Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sorrow envelops West End family

Boy, 3, was killed after being hit by car

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He was a daddy's boy, the kind of son a father could never say no to. If dad went out, his son wanted to go along.

And Sunday afternoon, while his father was working on a roof, three-year-old Robert was hit by a car between Toronto and Victor streets in the West End, and died.

On Monday, Robert Scherban talked about how his son would follow him everywhere.

"Everything I did, we did together.

"He looked like me. He dressed like me. Every time I wanted to go for a smoke, he wants to go outside (with me). Sometimes when I didn't want to go, he'd get mad and say 'Dad, let's go for a smoke,' " Scherban said.

On Sunday, his father was going to work on a roof a few houses down from their home on Toronto Street, and Robert asked if he could go with him.

'I freaked out on the roof. I started yelling "No, not my son" '

-- Robert Scherban

Scherban joined other men working on the roof. The wife of one of them paid attention to Robert, but after he dropped his toy in a puddle and ran back to get it, he was struck by a car turning right from Notre Dame Avenue onto the back alley.

Scherban said he heard someone yelling, got down from the roof, found his son and immediately started CPR.

"I freaked out on the roof. I started yelling 'No, not my son,' " he said.

Robert was taken to hospital but did not survive. Scherban said he was told his son died almost instantly.

Robert was well-liked. The workers in the corner store knew him by name, and even his favourite gum, Scherban said.

Police said the driver of the vehicle immediately called 911.

Neither speed nor alcohol was a factor in the incident.

Scherban's sister, Robin Appasani, said it's not the first time someone has been hit at that intersection and drivers often speed in that area.

Scherban said he wishes drivers would slow down. "Slow down in the back alley. When you're going down a back alley, you're obviously close to your destination," he said.

Appasani said the outpouring of concern from the community has been overwhelming.

People she hadn't talked to since she moved in, and who didn't know Robert, went over to express sympathy and offer support, she said.

Scherban fought back tears while talking about his son, as did family members who were standing nearby.

"I know he's watching over us," he said.

Sunday's tragedy was the first time in at least a decade that a toddler was killed after being hit by a car, Manitoba Public Insurance data show.

From 2007 to 2011, children under 14 made up 11 per cent of all pedestrian victims.

 

-- with files from Mary-Agnes Welch

oliver.sachgau@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2014 B1

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