A 31-year-old Winnipeg woman charged in connection with a fatal crosswalk accident that killed a child in March was allegedly a novice driver who should not have been driving without supervision, police say.
On Friday, Winnipeg police announced that Highway Traffic Act charges have been laid against the unidentified driver in connection with the March 18 accident that killed a four-year-old girl and injured her mother.
Genet Bruk and her daughter Galila were struck at the crosswalk at Isabel Street and Alexander Avenue, on their way to Dufferin School to meet her six-year-old son at lunch time. Galila later died in hospital and her mother is still recovering from her injuries, a friend of the family said Friday.
The charges related to the accident include careless driving causing death and careless driving causing bodily harm, disobeying a traffic device, and operating a vehicle as a novice driver without a supervising driver.
The driver was released on an appearance notice, Winnipeg police said in a press release. It stated that the Highway Traffic Act charges were laid at the direction of the Crown. The most serious charges — careless driving causing death and bodily harm — each come with a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison under the provincial act. It defines careless driving as driving "without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway."
Had the driver been charged under the Criminal Code of Canada, the penalties would have been much harsher and required the Crown to prove the driver was criminally negligent and driving in a way that's a "marked and substantial departure from the standard of a reasonable driver."
"That would be driving with wanton disregard — so poorly and badly in a way nobody could possibly expect for someone to operate a vehicle," said criminal defence lawyer Scott Newman, who has no connection to the case. "The Highway Traffic Act has a lower burden of proof."
Hearing that the driver has been charged nine months after the fatal accident was news to Dorota Blumczynksa, a friend of Galila's mother and the executive director of IRCOM Isabel, where the Eritrean family has lived since arriving in Canada last January.
"If there was a mistake made, or inadequate training or someone was not supposed to be driving, should a person be held to account for their actions? Absolutely," said Blumczynska, who doesn't know anything about the accused. "Nothing will bring Galila back but it's for the safety of others."
The child's mother, Genet Bruk, now uses a wheelchair outside the home and a walker inside the home and is receiving physiotherapy, said Blumczynska, who's had tea at the home several times and cries with the woman every visit.
"She's got a very, very long road to physical recovery. She hopes to walk again independently."
Emotionally and spiritually, she and her husband are coping, said Blumczynska. "They have found an enormous amount of comfort in their faith. They believe their daughter was called to be at God's side. They're able to make sense of their world in that way and come to some peace with this tragedy." She hopes that news of the charges being laid may act as a deterrent and prevent more fatalities.
"None of the children who witnessed that accident, none of my colleagues who accompanied the (victims) to hospital or saw Galila's lifeless body will ever be the same," she said. "I think it's important to understand we are accountable to one another and responsible for one another."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Updated on Friday, December 13, 2019 at 5:36 PM CST: Comments turned off.
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