Husband of woman killed in Edmonton crosswalk: ‘My life ended with her’

Click to play video: 'Calls to make Edmonton crosswalk safer after woman’s death' Calls to make Edmonton crosswalk safer after woman’s death
WATCH ABOVE: The 57-year-old woman and her dog killed in a west Edmonton crosswalk over the weekend had taken that route many times before. Now, there are calls to make the crossing safer. Kendra Slugoski reports – Jun 21, 2017

Brian Draginda and his wife Wanda had walked across the Lewis Estates crosswalk thousands of times.

Saturday was supposed to be no different.

It was a clear evening and Wanda headed out the door with their dog Tiggr.

After a half hour and no sign of his wife and pet, Draginda started to worry. He said their little dog had bad hips and couldn’t walk very far.

Then, the police showed up on his doorstep.

“My life ended Saturday night,” Draginda said. “I haven’t been able to drive down the street.”

It was around 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 17 when a green Lexus SUV, driven by a 42-year old man with his wife and 12-year-old son inside, hit 57-year-old Wanda Draginda and Tiggr in a marked crosswalk.

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They both died.

READ MORE: Woman and dog struck and killed in west Edmonton crosswalk 

Flowers and cards of condolence have been tied to the crosswalk sign at Suder Greens Drive, between Lewis Estates Boulevard and Potter Greens Drive.

Draginda said Wanda and he would have celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. Instead, he penned a letter to the love of his life talking about their decades of moments together.

He said after all that time, they had a “merging of the souls.”

“I don’t want to her be associated with tragedy… It’s something senseless that happened.”

Others in the neighbourhood are speaking out and have called on the city to make the stretch of road safer.

Chelsea Dufresne heads up the neighbourhood watch with the Lewis Estates Community League, she said people should walk their blocks to keep the area safe, but questioned how people can do that if they don’t feel safe crossing the street.

“We want to make sure it never happens again, but it never should have come to this.”

“It’s terrible,” she said. “Our condolences go out to the family.”

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The crosswalk signs are visible, but Dufresne pointed out bushes that could impede the view of drivers headed west on the road. The driver from Saturday’s collision was heading east.

Chelsea Dufresne stands by the makeshift memorial for Wanda Draginda. Dufresne heads up neighbourhood watch with the Lewis Estates Community League. She wants the city to improve safety along a busy roadway. June 21, 2017. Kendra Slugoski
The Lewis Estates Community League says bushes impede view of marked crosswalk along Suder Greens Dr. Kendra Slugoski

She wants the city to remove those bushes and install flashing lights. Others had suggested speed signs to remind drivers to slow down.

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The city said anytime there is a death in a crosswalk, it does a review but first the police report must be handed over.

Edmonton police have not laid charges but the investigation is ongoing.

WATCH: Parents of Edmonton pedestrian killed in crosswalk push for safer streets 

Gerry Shimko with Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety said the city will review that crosswalk once the police investigation in complete, but added it already has a higher level of protection.

“It’s a zebra crosswalk so you have the extra-wide painted lines,” Shimko said. “As you are approaching the crosswalk, there’s also advanced notice that there is a crosswalk in both directions as well.”

The city is currently doing a review of more than 1,000 collector roads to determine if crossings need to be updated and will prioritize crosswalks once that review is done in September.

In the fall, as part of its Vision Zero strategy, the city will also start looking at decreasing speed in neighbourhoods. Shimko said school zones and playground zones have gone down to 30 kilometres per hour and evidence shows fewer collisions and injuries in neighbourhoods with a 40 km/h speed.

“If the speed was a lot lower there, then the probability of that pedestrian and pet surviving would have been a lot higher.”

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So far this year, four pedestrians have been killed, two of them in marked crosswalks.

Last year, eight people were killed in Edmonton crosswalks and 202 were injured.

READ MORE: Edmonton traffic safety improving, but a long road ahead: city 

Draginda thanked Edmonton’s Victim Services for the help and guidance over the past few days.

He will bury his wife and dog together on Friday.

“A senseless event occurred… stripped someone from the earth.”

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