‘Nothing short of absolutely tragic’ Family angry, community traumatized after child killed in hit-and-run while crossing street in Norway House
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe:
Monthly Digital Subscription
$4.75 per week*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Billed as $19.00 plus GST every four weeks. Cancel anytime.
A nine-year-old girl killed in a hit-and-run collision in northern Manitoba is being remembered for her kindness and love of the outdoors, while her family demands justice and safety improvements.
Gracie Menow was crossing a road with her 12-year-old cousin in Norway House Cree Nation when she was struck by an SUV Friday at about 5:30 p.m.
The woman driving the SUV got out, yelled at the other girl to go and get help and drove off, according to Gracie’s family.
“We feel so much anger because (the driver) could not even stay there to try to help or try to call for help,” Gracie’s grandmother Genevieve Menow said in a phone conversation Tuesday.
“We don’t want it to happen to another child and another family.”
One of the family’s dogs was recently struck and killed in the same area, said Gracie’s mother Catherine Menow.
After that incident, she feared a child would be next.
“I never expected it to be my daughter,” she told the Free Press via Facebook Messenger. “We want justice served.”
The girl’s death was one of two fatal collisions involving pedestrians in the province in the span of four days.
A 20-year-old man died after he was hit by a vehicle at Bison Drive and Markham Road in Winnipeg shortly before 9 p.m. Monday.
The collision in Norway House happened on Jack River Road while Gracie and her cousin were walking home.
They had been sliding and playing outside, which is what Gracie loved to do, whether it was on a trampoline or running around with her dogs, said Genevieve.
The Grade 3 student, who attended the Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre, celebrated her ninth birthday Feb. 2.
“She loved her cake, which featured Barbie decorations, and was excited to receive L.O.L. Surprise! dolls,” the grandmother said. “They had a big party for her. She was happy.”
“I never expected it to be my daughter… We want justice served.”–Catherine Menow, Gracie’s mother
It was still light outside when Gracie was struck by the vehicle while trying to cross the road close to her home in the community located about 450 kilometres north of Winnipeg, she said.
“She was wearing a red jacket, and I don’t see how this woman did not see her,” Genevieve said, adding the 12-year-old cousin, who alerted family, is traumatized. “You can see from afar who’s crossing.”
Crisis workers visited over the weekend to help the girl and other family members devastated by Gracie’s death.
RCMP said officers, band constables and paramedics arrived within minutes, but Gracie was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said the driver, a 28-year-old woman, returned while officers were present and turned herself in. She was arrested for failing to stop at the scene of a collision resulting in death. An SUV was seized for examination.
RCMP said investigators do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the collision.
The woman was released from custody and is due to appear in court May 4.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Paul Manaigre said officers continue to investigate.
“The investigation will focus on determining if speed or inattention played a factor,” he wrote in an email.
“She was wearing a red jacket, and I don’t see how this woman did not see her… You can see from afar who’s crossing.”–Genevieve Menow, Gracie’s grandmother
He said officers who responded to the incident noted snowbanks next to driveways were quite high and may not have allowed time for the driver to react when the child went onto the road.
Gracie’s family is concerned about the behaviour of some drivers who use Jack River Road, where the posted speed limit is 50 km/h, her grandmother said.
“It’s like a race track in this area,” she said. “There’s always traffic that goes by so fast. It gets me so pissed off about that, how people drive around so fast and yet there are a lot of kids on the road.”
Gracie’s relatives have changed their Facebook profile pictures to a composite image showing a photo of her and a message urging drivers to slow down.
Genevieve said Norway House Chief Larson Anderson visited the family after the collision and told them council would discuss road safety.
The family is also expecting Gracie’s classmates to visit a sacred fire that has been burning at her home since Friday.
“They’re pretty heartbroken about this,” she said.
The family has placed a framed picture of Gracie and candles at a memorial on the side of the road.
Reg Klassen, chief superintendent of Frontier School Division, said a team including staff, wellness counsellors, elders and band councillors has been speaking and offering support to students and employees at the school this week.
“Our elders led our students through prayers and conversations, and answered some questions,” said Klassen. “As a school division, we are thinking and praying for Gracie’s family as they try to deal with something that is nothing short of absolutely tragic.”
As a general assignment reporter, Chris covers a little bit of everything for the Free Press.