Sha Liang sits in the kitchen of her home weeping as she watches a slide show on her laptop. Pictures of her younger sister, Violet Liang, flash across the screen and she recalls the day Violet started Grade 10 at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate — the day she died.
“The morning of the day of her passing I heard a lot of helicopters.. And I was thinking my like there’s a lot of commotion happening like.. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t think that it would hit so close to home,” recalled Liang with tears streaming down her face.
At home with a two-week-old baby, her phone then rang. A friend told her Violet was in an accident. She would later learn her sister was walking to school just before 8 a.m. when she was struck at the intersection of Sentinel Road and Lamberton Boulevard in front of Elia Middle School. She died the day before her 15th birthday despite efforts to save her.
“Initially it was frustration. How do you not see someone walking up the street? If you were driving up the street towards the stop sign, how do you not hear witnesses telling you to stop?” asked Liang.
Violet’s death devastated her family and left them with questions.
“Did he actually make a full stop? The police report said he did — it’s a mystery,” Sha said.
The 42-year-old driver was charged with careless driving and failure to yield to a pedestrian.
“With these trucks it has a bigger impact with pedestrian safety, pedestrian death, because it’s a heavy-duty truck,” said Sha.
“With family cars they have a lot of sensors around. Why don’t they do that with trucks? So if anyone comes near or they’re turning, it should give them enough signal that would tell them someone’s coming.”
Just a few months before the collision that killed Violet, a five-year-old girl was struck and killed by a garbage truck in Scarborough. Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger had been walking home with three other children in March 2013 when the truck turned left into an intersection striking her.
“It’s wall to wall trucks from here to Windsor, from here to Montreal, and once those trucks spill over to residential streets it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Toronto Councillor Mike Colle.
Colle along with other councillors are calling for improved traffic safety for pedestrians, especially around large trucks, following the death of another pedestrian this week. Fifty-four-year-old Evangeline Lauroza was hit by a cement truck driver as she crossed Erskine Avenue at Yonge Street
Meanwhile, It was six years last week since Violet left home to walk to class on her first day of Grade 10. Sha moved back into the family home where she now raises her own two young daughters.
“My parents moved out because they wanted to change the environment, but I stayed because this is the last place she knows, it’s her home,” Sha said.
“In our culture, we believe in spirits and until this day I still sometimes wish I can just get a glimpse of her.”
About the driver who was driving the truck that killed her sister, she added while watching pictures of her little sister come and go, “I don’t want to be judgmental towards how truck drivers drive but they do have a lot of blind spots which we all understand.”
“She’s sort of like someone that was sent to us. As much as we are always looking for a closure, there will never be one,” she said.