Witnesses grapple with boy's death in Saint-Henri collision, question traffic rules
MONTREAL -- A boy's death in a car collision in Saint-Henri on Wednesday may lead to changes in how traffic is managed in the area, says the borough mayor.
It’s also led to the temporary closure of the day camp the boy attended so that grief counsellors could help with the aftermath.
The horrifying incident was witnessed by many people, including the boy’s father, since it occurred right when kids were being let out from the camp.
"It was traumatic," said Kevin Thomas, who was picking up his own daughter at the time.
Kids were leaving the city-run camp, on St. Ambroise St. across from Sir-Georges-Etienne-Cartier park. It was about 4 p.m.
Eyewitnesses say the driver involved, who police described as a 34-year-old woman, made a complete stop at the stop sign. Then she continued, but the boy darted out into the street just at that moment.
"I ran out into the street," said Thomas. "Immediately I knew the boy was in really bad shape and I could see he wasn't going to make it."
The camp director says children usually wait on the balcony in front of the camp for their parents, and most parents meet them there to walk home. But on Wednesday, this boy’s dad came by car and was parked across the street, waiting for him to cross.
"He signaled to his child to come meet him," said Daniel Belanger, the camp director.
The boy immediately complied, but the other driver didn’t see him in time.
"The eight-year-old boy came on the street," said Raphael Bergeron of Montreal police. "What happened exactly, it’s still under investigation."
The collision squad is trying to understand the sequence of events, he said.
Police said yesterday that the boy had severe injuries to his lower body and stayed conscious for a while but ultimately died in hospital.
There’s now a vigil on St. Ambroise St. Locals visited it today, saying they’re shaken by the death.
"It's awful," said resident Ryan Clarke. "It's the only way to feel about it. It's awful."
Belanger, the camp director, says he plans to change the camp’s pick-up policy: from now on, parents will have to come to the front door before children will be allowed to leave.
But some neighbours say the bigger problem is increased traffic in Saint-Henri, with too many of them in a rush.
"It can be a difficult place to cross," Clarke said. "People tend to ignore the speed limit."
The limit is 30 kilometres/hour, but people often treat it more as a major thoroughfare and go closer to 50, he said.
The borough mayor, Benoit Dorais, says that once the police investigation has ended, he’ll consider creating new measures for pedestrian safety.
While the boy's fellow campers stayed home today, grief counsellors were available for the staff—many of whom are also just young adults.
The boy who died "had a beautiful smile, had a lot of energy and big plans, and it all vanished in a second," said Belanger.