Flags are flying at half mast at Catholic schools in St. Albert, Morinville and Legal this week, in memory of a life cut short.
Thomas Wedman, a Grade 2 student at Ä‚Â©cole Marie Poburan died Friday after being struck by a school bus while he was on his way to school.
“This has been incredibly sobering news about the whole reality of student safety of walking to school,” said David Keohane, superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.
Keohane said the division is trying to strike a balance between normalcy and time to grieve. He said the community has been a source of strength for students and staff who are mourning and experiencing confusion and trauma.
“It’s been a remarkable story of parents rolling up their sleeves and providing meals for staff. There is a strong sense of support from parents and the Holy Family Parish to the school community.”
Flags will remain at half mast until Monday.
Thomas’ father Jeff is also thanking the community for its outpouring of support.
“People shouldn’t be strangers. Our door is open for people to say their condolences and for any friends that have been keeping their distance out of respect and privacy,” Wedman said in an interview on Monday.
“We’re quite happy to receive people and have them share in our sadness.”
A private family service will be held for Thomas on Thursday in Millet.
There will be a public memorial service on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at North Pointe Church at 14025 167th Ave.
“Everybody deserves a chance to say goodbye to him,” Wedman said, adding that the family thanks the community for their overwhelming love, compassion, and understanding.
Thomas was crossing the street while on his way to school around 8:40 a.m. Friday morning when he was hit by a school bus making a right hand turn onto Woodlands Road from Sir Winston Churchill Avenue.
The school bus was contracted by St. Albert Public Schools and was heading to Keenooshayo Elementary School.
On Monday, St. Albert RCMP were out measuring the intersection so a collision analyst can attempt to recreate the incident to determine exactly what happened. This is normal protocol following any collision that results in serious injury or death, said spokesperson Cpl. Laurel Kading.
She said officers are still taking statements from witnesses and as of yet, no criminal charges have been laid.
Keohane said traffic and pedestrian safety in the area was not a concern that was brought to the school board before Friday’s incident.
The Wedman family has asked community members not to create a memorial at the scene of Thomas’ death as they don’t want their other son or other children to relive the tragic moment when they pass by. Instead, they want to remember Thomas for the lovable, fun-loving, free-spirited child he was.
“Every child is special, but our Thomas was so carefree and radiated pure innocence to whomever he came in contact with,” read a statement provided to the Gazette by the family.
“He was never troubled by anything and was so quick to laugh, no words can adequately describe the hole his death has left.”
The family decided to have Thomas’ heart valves donated to help better the lives of two other children. In lieu of flowers they have asked for donations to the Human Organ Procurement and Exchange Program, which has offices in both Edmonton and Calgary. They ask that donors select the “Designation” drop-down box, select “Other,” then type in the word, “HOPE.”
Friends and family can share their memories and photos of Thomas by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch www.stalbertgazette.com Friday evening for coverage of Thomas Wedman’s public memorial service.