Coroner recommends better visibility at Parc Ave. crossing after woman's death
Published Monday, May 22, 2017 12:28PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 22, 2017 6:28PM EDT
The Quebec coroner is recommending the City of Montreal review its lights on the crossing on Parc Ave. at the George-Etienne Statue after a 62-year-old woman was killed there.
In January 2016, Concepcion Cortacans was struck by a car that went through a red light as she was crossing.
According to the coroner’s report, Cortacans was jogging and crossed heading toward Mount Royal as the light turned green. An STM bus in the right-hand lane obscured her vision of any other oncoming traffic.
A car headed north drove through the red light and struck her, throwing her four metres. An ambulance was immediately called to the scene and she was rushed to hospital to treat multiple fractures and a serious brain hemorrhage.
Despite an operation to treat her injuries, Cortacans died in hospital days later.
“Her memory is my life at the moment, it’s just her vivid memory,” said her husband, Andre Benyamin, who comes to the site of the collision at least twice a week to feel close to his late wife.
Coroner Stephanie Gamache referred to her death as accidental, but recommended that the pedestrian crossing light there be made more visible to drivers in both directions by adding panels that warn of the upcoming traffic stop.
Gamache stated in her report that on the day of Cortacans’s death, there was good weather, the lights were working well and the car did not have any noticeable mechanical defects.
Though this intersection is very busy and well-known to many Montreal drivers, this driver was not from the city and said he had never driven on Parc Ave. before.
The driver was on his way to a meeting and was using the GPS on his phone to get there. The GPS would not have indicated there was a light or an intersection there, so it is plausible he was not anticipating the upcoming traffic light.
He said he had a moment of distraction and didn’t notice the red light at that spot. He was also unable to see the pedestrian because of the bus in the lane to his right.
Witnesses said the man was driving at about 50 to 70 kilometres per hour when he struck Cortacans.
Benyamin is disappointed by the outcome of the report.
“I don't think the driver learned anything out of this,” he said. “I don't think the city or Quebec rules made him understand he did something wrong – and that is wrong.”
Shortly after she died, her son Jonathan Benyamin Cortacans said his mother’s death was no fault of her own.
“My mother, when she crossed the street, it was her green light. If she made a mistake at the moment, the mistake was that she had confidence in the green light,” he said.
City councillor Alex Norris has suggested photo radar cameras and other traffic-calming measures should be implemented there.
“We see cars speeding every day along this stretch of road, and that leaves no room for error. An error on the part of a motorist or pedestrian becomes a death sentence,” he said after her death, adding that when that stretch of Parc was redone and an extra lane was added, it made the road into a pseudo-highway.
The City of Montreal pointed out that it did a survey of the scene, as it always does in these situations, to determine if any immediate changes could be made.
They reiterated that the city is committed to the idea that ‘one dead person is one too many.’
The city said it will work with all partners to ensure the safety of everyone.
Cortacans's death was the first at that crosswalk in six years.