The family of a teen struck and killed by an Edmonton transit bus on Saturday evening is mourning her sudden loss.
Mariama Sillah, 13, was hit while walking in a marked crosswalk at 137 Avenue and 40 Street in Clareview. According to her uncle, she was on her way home after grabbing dinner at Subway when she was struck by the bus.
“All the dreams she had, all she wanted to be and what we were hoping to see – it’s gone,” Alimamy Timbo said of his niece.
“Up to now, I’m in denial. I wish there was another way, a miracle could bring her back.”
Since the collision, there has been a steady stream of family and friends coming through the front door of Mariama’s father’s home. They come to mourn, offer their sympathies and prepare food for her parents.
“Most of us are refugees. The parents have gone through trauma, through war. Ebola struck our country, families were affected. And to have this, it is a lot in our community,” Kemoh Mansaray said, Sierra Leone Community president and family friend.
“I have two young children and I’m just thinking about – for my own children to be struck. And yesterday I can see moms holding their tummies, feeling the pain that the parents are going through.”
Timbo said Mariama’s father had offered to drive her to Subway later that evening, but she told him she would be okay going by herself.
“She told dad, prior to going for the food, she wanted to see my son. So when she left for Subway and didn’t make it back in time, [her] dad thought she was already over at my apartment, which is next door,” he explained.
But she didn’t call or text her father as she typically would. And when he called, she didn’t pick up. Timbo said eventually a police officer answered his niece’s phone.
“The police officer said ‘We’re coming. What’s your address?’ He gave the address and then the police officer said ‘We’re coming to your house.’ Then he just knew something was wrong.”
Instead of waiting, her father rushed to the scene.
“We saw the ambulance and all the barricades,” Timbo said.
Mariama was a student at Victoria School.
Edmonton Public Schools issued a statement to Global News on Monday which in part read: “All of us at Edmonton Public Schools grieve at the news that one of our students was involved in a fatal tragedy this past weekend. We know that tragedies involving students – regardless of where they occur – may have a significant impact on classmates and others at our schools.”
Counselling teams have been brought in to help staff and students cope with the loss of Mariama.
Martha Sellu, who is also a friend of the family, said the devastation is being felt by the youngsters who knew Mariama.
“They did not want to go to school this morning. They kept talking about it. They just feel that she’s in pain and they feel that they let Mariama down by not being with her to help her out of the pain,” she said.
Sellu said a candlelight vigil is being planned for Mariama and will likely take place later this week. For now, a Go Fund Me page has been set up to help her family with funeral expenses.
Sillah is the second person to have been struck by an ETS bus in as many months.
In October, an 83-year-old Edmonton woman was struck by a city bus while in a marked crosswalk near 87 Avenue and 169 Street. She was treated at the scene and taken to hospital, where she later succumbed to her injuries.
The driver in that incident was charged with one count of failing to yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk under the Traffic Safety Act.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 has expressed concerns over blindspots on city buses which city officials admit are an industry-wide issue.
There are plans to look to manufacturers to see find out what can be done as well as address the serious incidents that have occurred.
“With the help of Occupational Health and Safety, we’ll be doing a complete review on our own as well, to see if there’s anything we can learn that we might not have known,” city manager Linda Cochrane said.
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.