Okanagan mom calls for action after daughter struck by vehicle while trying to avoid drug user in underpass
An Okanagan mother is making an emotional plea to the City of Penticton to improve public safety and combat open drug use after her teenaged daughter was struck by a vehicle.
Meghan Sidorchuk said her 13-year-old daughter Brooklyn attempted to cross the highway on Saturday, June 1, around 1:30 p.m. instead of using the Skaha Lake Road pedestrian underpass.
Brooklyn Sidorchuk said she encountered a man in the underpass on the way to Skaha Lake Beach to meet a friend and said she was intimidated by his presence.
“I saw this huge tent, I saw a guy, I saw needles, I’m like ‘ok, he’s shooting up,’” she told Global News on Tuesday.
WATCH: Escalating problem with needles left on Penticton school grounds (May 2019)
On the way home, she opted to cross the high volume traffic route instead, despite a sign that says “no pedestrian crossing use underpass.”
“I waited there a while, waiting for a clear path, and then I saw a clear path no cars coming, then I sprinted, I thought I made it, but I didn’t.”
Brooklyn was struck by a vehicle travelling 60 kilometres an hour. The driver stayed on the scene and co-operated with police.
“When the car hit me, I didn’t feel anything until I was on the ground, started screaming, I’ve never screamed that loud in my whole entire life,” she said.
The teenager was rushed to Penticton Regional Hospital (PRH) and spent seven hours in emergency undergoing a series of tests including a CT scan.
Luckily, she escaped the collision with only bruises, bumps and road rash.
Sidorchuk said the family has lived nearby since 2014 and she’s always instructed her children to access the beach via the underpass.
“I was upset, I was really angry that she was in a position where she needed to make a decision, her gut told her no, don’t go back there. It really upset me,” she said.
The Penticton mother would like to see the city do more to address public safety and open drug use, such as increased patrols and the installation of more needle disposal bins.
Sidorchuk said she doesn’t know what the answer is, but she’d like to be part of the solution.
“I would love to be a part of the solution though, and if we can ban together as a community for those who advocate for safe passages, beaches, fields and schoolyards, if we can all band together and come up with something, I’m sure there is enough of us in the city that can come up with some solution,” she said.
Sidorchuk and her daughter plan to meet with Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki in the near future.
WATCH: 5,600 used needles. 6 days. A Penticton pharmacy is buying back discarded needles (July 2018)
“I think that the mayor needs to really look at what the open drug use is doing to the city,” she said.
“I don’t want to group homelessness and drug use together because they are completely separate issues, there needs to be more knowledge, more awareness, for these people who are suffering from mental illnesses that are potentially caused by this drug use or the reason they use the drugs.”
Anthony Haddad, development services manager with the City of Penticton, said the city is aware of the public safety and open drug use concerns by residents and is addressing it.
“Investments in Public safety include additional RCMP and bylaw resources, a new Downtown Community Safety office,” he said in an email.
“Partnerships with local social service agencies, housing providers and enforcement agencies will continue to need to be invested in as we all move forward on these matters.”
He also encourages residents to contact the bylaw department and the RCMP if they feel unsafe.
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