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UPDATED: Parents lament 'nightmare intersection'

School bus kills St. Albert boy crossing the street

By: Amy Crofts

  |  Posted: Friday, Sep 27, 2013 11:45 am

CHILD KILLED – An RCMP photographer examines the scene of a fatality involving a six-year-old boy and a school bus at the intersection of Sir Winston Churchill Avenue and Woodlands Road on Friday morning.
CHILD KILLED – An RCMP photographer examines the scene of a fatality involving a six-year-old boy and a school bus at the intersection of Sir Winston Churchill Avenue and Woodlands Road on Friday morning.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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Residents are questioning the safety of the intersection where a six-year-old boy died Friday after being hit by a school bus.

RCMP were called to the intersection of Sir Winston Churchill Avenue and Woodlands Road near École Marie Poburan School around 8:40 a.m.

The school bus was making a right hand turn onto Woodlands Road and struck the boy while he was crossing the street.

The boy was a Grade 2 student at Marie Poburan. His name has not been released. His family has been notified.

RCMP confirmed the school bus was contracted by St. Albert Public Schools. They believe it was heading to Keenooshayo Elementary School.

Residents at the scene said there have been close calls like this before.

“I walk my kids through the intersection every day and every day we almost get taken out by vehicles,” said Cindy Debruijn, a parent of three, referring to the vehicles turning right at the traffic light from Sir Winston Churchill Avenue onto Woodlands Road.

“They pull out and they wait in the middle of the road and they wait for our kids to barely get through … nipping at our heels because otherwise it takes forever to try and cross. It's an absolute nightmare.”

Brian Cyr, father of a Grade 6 student at Marie Poburan, described the intersection as “insane.”

“It's a semi-controlled intersection when you've got kids crossing the street. It's a recipe for disaster,” he said. “Either you control it all the way or you don't control it. It's a false sense of security.”

“It's unfortunate, but it sounds so cliché that it takes something like this for people to recognize … it's a nightmare intersection.”

Lisa Babiuk, mother of two Marie Poburan students, said drivers need to pay more attention to the road.

“Driver awareness is just pathetic. They passed a law on distracted driving and you see so many people still on their phones texting, talking, not paying attention. It's frustrating because somebody is going to get hurt or killed.”

“This is not the only place there's problems, there's problems all over the city and it's just because people don't want to pay attention and don't want to slow down.”

Cpl. Don Murray, a traffic specialist with the St. Albert RCMP, said the intersection has not been identified as a high risk or high collision location. He said speed is not considered to be a factor in Friday's collision.

Debruijn said she has brought her concerns to city administration, but requests for more pedestrian crossing signs have been turned down.

“It's inevitable this has happened and in fact I've had multiple conversations with this little boy's mom about what we can do to make this better,” she said.

Parents with students attending Marie Poburan were told they could pick up their children early on Friday. Both school authorities made counsellors available to students and their families.

“We had many young students on the bus when the accident occurred,” said St. Albert Public Schools superintendent Barry Wowk, in a statement. “The parents of these students were notified as soon as possible and many arrived to check on their children.”

Counsellors will be on site for the next week at Marie Poburan.

“As with any tragedy of this magnitude, we will be watching students for signs of distress or other adverse reactions to the event such as anxiety or trauma,” said David Keohane, superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.

“Our heartfelt condolences are extended to the family, friends and classmates of this child.”

“This tragedy is a loss to everyone associated with our schools. As such, it is important that we all pray and support each other to heal and help each other.”


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