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Family pleads for witnesses after mother’s death in Garden City parking lot

Click to play video: 'Family pleads for witnesses to fatal pedestrian crash' Family pleads for witnesses to fatal pedestrian crash
WATCH: The Orellana family is seeking answers after a fatal crash in a Winnipeg mall parking lot. Global's Joe Scarpelli reports – Apr 5, 2019

The family of the woman who died after being struck by a half-ton truck on Monday says they’re asking anyone with information to come forward to police.

Oliver Antonio Munoz Orellana travelled immediately from Santiago, Chile, to Winnipeg when his father called him to say what had happened to his mother, Tamara Orellana Azolas.

“My dad is crying and said to me ‘Your mom was crushed and she’s dead,'” said Orellana from his cousin’s home in Winnipeg Friday.

“My dad … he’s really broken, I never see that face and my dad crying, never.”

Azolas was walking in the parking lot behind the Assiniboine Credit Union next to Garden City Shopping Centre Monday afternoon when she was run over.

READ MORE: Winnipeg police searching for witnesses after fatal crash in Garden City Shopping Centre parking lot

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The parking lot is currently the site of significant construction and renovations of the plaza, as new buildings are erected and old ones are  demolished.

Azolas’ body was covered with a tarp while police investigated, and the next day, police asked any witnesses to come forward.

Orellana said the family just wants to know how it happened.

“We don’t have any information [about] what happened to my mom,” he said. “That is the question all the family have.”
A candle burns Friday at a small memorial near where Tamara Azolas died. Elisha Dacey/Global News

Loving mother, grandmother

Family members described Azolas, 57, as a happy-go-lucky and strong woman who worked hard in Canada to provide for her children back in Chile. She moved to Canada 11 years ago to work and help take care of her grand-niece and other family members.

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She worked at the Viscount Gort Hotel as a banquet server and took private cleaning jobs, among other part-time work. Orellana said her sacrifices when he was growing up meant he and his sister could go to university. He now works as a middle school teacher in Santiago and his sister is a neurosurgeon.

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Tamara Orellana Azolas posing for a family selfie. submitted / Orellana family
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Tamara Orellana Azolas. submitted / Orellana family
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Tamara Orellana Azolas. submitted / Orellana family
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Orellana family picture. submitted / Orellana family
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Orellana family picture. submitted / Orellana family
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Tamara Orellana Azolas with family. submitted / Orellana family
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Tamara Orellana Azolas. submitted / Orellana family
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Tamara Orellana Azolas with family. submitted / Orellana family

“My mom work for us. We don’t have nothing if she don’t stay here. That’s the legacy that she give to us,” he said.

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Azolas was about to become a grandmother for a second time, as Orellana’s fiance is expecting later this year.

“My mom said to me that she wants to go to Chile to see my son.”

Concerns and dangers

Her family said they haven’t received much information from police and have been told they may not have answers for up to nine months while the investigation takes place.

They also said they feel extra safety precautions should be taken near the construction site. When the family went to the site Thursday evening to set up a small memorial, there were no signs or warnings that something had happened there, said Orellana.

Flowers attached to a tree near where Tamara Orellana Azolas died. Elisha Dacey/Global News

The operator of the truck that hit Orellana’s mother was an employee of one of the construction companies on site, he said, and they want to make sure nothing criminal happened that led to Azolas’ death.

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Police had initially said the truck involved in the collision was a half-ton, (as stated the video included with this story), however, it was later determined to have been a dump truck.

“If any person, [saw] anything, maybe a witness in the death of my mom, maybe [they] can help us.”

A spokesperson for Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health said they were notified of the incident.

“WSH has initiated an independent investigation under the Workplace Safety and Health Act and Regulations in collaboration with the Winnipeg Police Service,” said the spokesperson in a statement sent to Global News.

Winnipeg police Cst. Tammy Skrabek said she understands the family’s frustration and desire for answers.

“These types of incidents are very complex, and our investigators want to be sure they have all the correct information before concluding the file one way or the other,” said Skrabek.

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“I completely understand the family wants answers and probably needs answers during the very devastating time for them to be able to process everything and feel a sense of closure.

“I can assure them information will be coming. We have been assured by the traffic unit that they will be reaching out to family.”

Anyone who witnessed the incident Monday at around 3 p.m. is asked to call the police Traffic Unit at 204-986-7085.

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