Family of pedestrian in fatal Bison Drive collision awaits answers
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The family of a 20-year-old man fatally struck Monday by a vehicle in south Winnipeg is in shock while waiting for answers about what happened.
Harris Harper, who was training to become an automotive technician, was on his way home at about 8:45 p.m., when the collision happened at Bison Drive and Markham Road in the Fairfield Park area.
His grandmother, Emma Harper, has been struggling since a doctor from Health Sciences Centre called to inform her that her grandson had been involved in a collision and didn’t survive.
“I raised him from a baby; I’m still in shock,” she said by phone from Wasagamack First Nation, where her grandson grew up before he moved to Winnipeg. “I didn’t expect this news to be given to me. I’m just starting to realize that things are true. I don’t believe he’s gone.”
In a news release, Winnipeg police said the pedestrian was pronounced dead in hospital, after being transported in critical condition.
The vehicle’s 73-year-old male driver remained at the scene and spoke with investigators, said police, who didn’t release any additional information about the collision.
Police wouldn’t say who had the right of way nor which directions the pedestrian and vehicle were travelling.
Harper’s family said the young man was going to catch a bus while en route to the St. James neighbourhood, where he lived with a relative.
He had been visiting friends at Southeast Collegiate on Lee Boulevard, not far from the scene of the collision.
Harper graduated from the south Winnipeg high school, which is attended by First Nations students from across Manitoba, in June 2022.
He was training to become an auto mechanic at the Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology in the West Fort Garry Industrial area, said his grandmother.
She was proud and happy when Harper told her he was accepted to the program. For her, it was a sign he was pursuing his interests and charting his own path in life.
“I wanted him to take something that he himself enjoys doing,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s hard for young people to go to school and to be told, ‘Take this.’”
Emma Harper last saw her grandson when they went out for dinner at a city pizza restaurant to celebrate his birthday. He turned 20 on Feb. 16.
“He was in very high spirits. He told me he liked what he was doing,” she said.
She said her grandson excelled in sports, including hockey, volleyball and track and field, while growing up in Wasagamack.
“He was a good sportsman. He had a lot of friends here in the community, and he showed a lot of respect for people and his family,” said Emma Harper. “A lot of people will be affected by this.”
Wasagamack is about 600 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg. The remote community has a population of about 1,400, according to federal government data.
During her grandson’s last visit home, she let him know she was making a special keepsake for him. “I told him: I’m going to make a small book about you, from the time you were born to now.”
Family members said he had a bright future and they were excited for him.
“Everybody is devastated,” said his uncle, Walter Harper, who is chief of Wasagamack. “He was a very lovable guy. He cared about everyone and he was like family to everyone.”
Walter Harper said members of the community’s education authority visited Southeast Collegiate on Tuesday to inform his nephew’s friends and offer support.
“The students there are very devastated,” he said.
Family members said they are waiting for more information from police, after some initial phone calls Tuesday.
“I just hope we will accept what’s happened,” said Emma Harper.
A driver, who came upon the scene around the time emergency services arrived, told the Free Press he saw a person on the ground receiving medical treatment near an ambulance.
A vehicle that appeared to have been involved in the collision was in Bison Drive’s westbound lanes, said the witness, who declined to give his name.
Anyone with information about the collision is asked to call investigators from the Winnipeg Police Service’s traffic division at 204-986-7085.
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.