Man faces $233 fine in connection with Calgary pedestrian’s death amid calls for tougher Alberta penalties

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WATCH: Twenty people died in crashes on Calgary roads in 2019, including three pedestrians. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, some are calling for stiffer penalties for people charged under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act – Dec 30, 2019

Twenty people were killed on Calgary roads in 2019, including three pedestrians.

That compares to 17 people killed in 2018.

According to Sgt. Colin Foster with the Calgary Police Service Traffic Unit, three fatalities is a very low number compared to previous years. Eight pedestrians were killed in 2018.

‘She is terribly missed’

Dawn Chiasson devoted much of her life to helping people and animals. The 52-year-old was a volunteer with Pet Access League Society, taking her dog Hudson to visit patients at the Foothills Medical Centre.

READ MORE: Calgary pedestrian hit by vehicle in early January dies

On the morning of Jan. 9, 2019, Chiasson was walking Hudson in the northwest community of Mount Pleasant. She was struck by a Ford F-150 and died on Jan. 20. Hudson survived.

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“Dawn was an amazing volunteer,” said PALS executive director Diana Segboer on Monday. “She brought unfailing support. She was always there for the patients and recognized when they were having a bad day. She is terribly missed now but she was loved so much by the patients and her PALS team and they were heartbroken when she left.”

According to the CPS, the driver involved in Chiasson’s death was charged with failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian under the Alberta Traffic Safety Act. The maximum penalty for that charge is a $233 fine and three demerit points.

Calls for tougher penalties

A driver who killed two pedestrians — Lucinda Yaworski and George Balint — on John Laurie Boulevard on Christmas Eve 2018 was charged with careless driving under the Traffic Safety Act and got a $2,000 fine and a three-month driving suspension. That is the maximum penalty under the Traffic Safety Act for careless driving.

READ MORE: Calgary couple killed in pedestrian crash on Christmas Eve 2018 remembered at intersection 1 year later

Friends and family of Yaworski and Balint believe there should be tougher penalties.

“The consequences of not paying attention when you’re driving, it’s too severe. It’s too costly. Lives are lost,” said Kimberlee Wolfe, a friend of the couple at a Christmas Eve memorial.

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Yaworski’s sisters have started a petition calling for stiffer fines in Alberta.

‘Make people think twice’

“The majority of people that I deal with in terms of the crashes are ordinary people,” Foster said. “They’re not somebody who deliberately goes out to have a crash. They are not somebody who deliberately goes out to do something that results in somebody’s death.”

Foster can’t speak on behalf of the CPS but he said as a member of the public and a person who has been investigating fatal collisions for three decades, he would like to see stiffer penalties under the Traffic Safety Act in cases involving death or injury.

“If we could introduce stiffer fines with greater penalties for breaching the Traffic Safety Act under certain circumstances, I think that would act as a deterrent. The only concern with that would be a lot of the collisions we deal with, unfortunately, do have those severe consequences. They are [a] momentary lapse of concentration,” Foster said.

“I think steeper fines and if people know that there’s going to be a consequence for something they do, it has that effect. It’s going to make people think twice, hopefully, about doing something. That said, we can never guarantee that someone is going to do something right all the time.”

Chiasson’s friends just hope drivers take the time to watch out for people and their pets.

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“There are so many people in Calgary that go walking with or without their pets and I know we are busy going to and from work… but just take that extra time and stop at a stop sign and stop at the crosswalks and watch out for your neighbours and whoever is out there because we don’t need any more tragedies,” Segboer said.