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'It makes me sick. It scares me'

Councillor, MPI react to statistics showing six of 14 road deaths this year were pedestrians 

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 9/5/2019 (503 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Four months, six pedestrians killed by vehicles. One of the victims was four years old.

Manitoba Public Insurance released statistics Thursday showing of the 14 people who died in motor vehicle collisions in the province in the first four months of 2019, six weren't in a vehicle. Four of the six pedestrians were killed in Winnipeg.

One of them was Galila Habtegergish, 4. And while Dorota Blumczynska didn't see the child and her mother get struck March 18 as they crossed Isabel Street at the crosswalk at Alexander Avenue, she has since seen firsthand what happens to the lives of families when a loved one is tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision.

"It has irreversibly changed her family," said Blumczynska, executive director of the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba.

</p><p>The crosswalk at Isabel Street and Alexander Avenue seen in March after a vehicle hit four-year-old Galila Habtegergish, who subsequently died in hospital.</p>
JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The crosswalk at Isabel Street and Alexander Avenue seen in March after a vehicle hit four-year-old Galila Habtegergish, who subsequently died in hospital.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

"The loss of her life will weigh on our community indefinitely. Families come here with hope and optimism. Families feel they are incredibly blessed to be part of the Winnipeg community and the Canadian fabric. But then, to find themselves in a moment transformed with this terrible loss," she said Thursday.

"It should never happen to anyone. There's an obligation for drivers to reflect on their habits, but also a place for government and leadership to put additional measures in place so, when our judgment fails, these other measures step in."

The other Winnipeg pedestrians killed in collisions thus far in 2019:

— A 41-year-old man struck by a vehicle while crossing Osborne Street at Morley Avenue on March 20. He died March 26.

— A 31-year-old woman was struck and later died Jan. 11, when a vehicle going southbound on St. James Street collided with a northbound vehicle causing that vehicle to slide into the woman who was walking on the sidewalk.

Galila Habtegergish, 4, died after she and her mother were struck at a crosswalk on Isabel Street in March.</p>
IMAGE FROM TWITTER

Galila Habtegergish, 4, died after she and her mother were struck at a crosswalk on Isabel Street in March.

IMAGE FROM TWITTER

— On Jan. 15, a 71-year-old woman was killed after being hit by a vehicle as she walked on Henderson Highway at Slater Avenue.

According to MPI, Manitoba's other two pedestrian deaths were a 42-year-old woman struck by a truck as she walked on Highway 224 on Peguis First Nation on April 23, and a 41-year-old man found dead lying on the road on Highway 391 on March 22. RCMP are treating the latter incident as a hit and run.

MPI said, on average, about 12 pedestrians are killed and 130 injured every year.

"There has to be an onus on both groups, whether motorists or pedestrians, to prevent these deaths," MPI spokesman Brian Smiley said. "The overall goal is to reduce these numbers. How to do it is education and awareness."

Smiley said MPI's statistics through the years show about half of all pedestrian deaths occur at intersections; the rest are struck while walking on the road or between intersections.

"That means either the motorist is not paying attention or the pedestrian is crossing against the light," he said. "And, with other pedestrians not struck at an intersection, that's better known as jaywalking."

Winnipeg Coun. Janice Lukes (Waverley West) has been pushing for a traffic safety initiative since 2016, but only recently has $2.5 million been earmarked for the issue. She said the initiative is called Vision Zero, and was created in Sweden with a mandate of dropping the number of fatalities on the road to zero.

"We've sat on this for two years," Lukes said. "Now there is movement, that's really positive, but I'm told it will be three years because it is with the city's transportation master plan... We need to make this a bigger priority than it already is.

"It makes me sick. It scares me."

 

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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Updated on Thursday, May 9, 2019 at 9:02 PM CDT: Fixes typo

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