Cathy Smith’s family and friends gathered in Edmonton on Wednesday to grieve and support one another as they remembered the woman who was killed on Tuesday as “the best.”
“My auntie Cathy is a gem in the family. She’s an anchor,” said Leah Martel.
On Wednesday afternoon, several people walked to Smith’s north Edmonton home carrying food and hugging one another.
Less than 24 hours earlier, and just a few metres from the home, the 67-year-old was killed. A construction vehicle ran her over. It’s something her family said has shattered them.
“Stunned, shocked, broken,” Martel said. “We’re just holding each other up. We’re at a loss for words.”
Police said they’re investigating after a hydrovac truck struck and killed the woman just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
‘A very traumatic scene’
Insp. Erik Johnson said it’s believed the woman was out for a walk when she was hit by the truck in front of her home. He said the driver of the truck told police she did not see the pedestrian.
“It’s absolutely devastating,” Johnson said, noting the police department’s victims service unit was brought in to speak to the family of the victim right away.
“It was a very traumatic scene. The driver of the truck is absolutely devastated as well, and it’s never easy on our police officers either to see such a scene.”
Johnson said there were no witnesses of the crash, and the police department’s major collision unit is working to determine what happened.
“There is no indication that the driver of the truck was speeding or impaired,” police later said in a news release.
Johnson added that police believe Smith was killed instantly when she was hit.
Neighbours say they’re devastated by what they saw.
“It is something we’re never going to get out of our minds,” said Em Ayoubi, who lives across the street.
Ayoubi said neighbours were frantic after the collision.
“People were going into houses, calling each other, saying, ‘Is it you? Are your kids OK? Where is everyone?’ People were looking for their own kids inside their houses. Everyone was freaking out and panicking,” Ayoubi said.
When she discovered who had died, the grief set in even more. Ayoubi said she was very close with Smith.
“She’d come over for tea and coffee, sit with us, and talk about anything. She loved animals. She loved our pet,” said Ayoubi.
“She had a lot of friends in the neighbourhood. Everyone knew her as bubbly and happy, always smiling. Everyone really liked her.”
In the middle of all the grief, Ayoubi and several other people living along the residential street say they have construction safety concerns.
“Why wasn’t anyone watching? Why was she alone? Why weren’t there any construction workers around?” said Ayoubi.
Other neighbours say when such large construction vehicles are working in a residential neighbourhood, they’d like to have spotters assigned to guide the big trucks around.
Crews were working on a fibre-optic cable installation for Telus when the collision happened.
In a statement to Global News, a Telus spokesperson wrote: “We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s tragic event. The health and safety of the community and workers are of the utmost importance to us, and all of our partners are trained to follow rigorous safety protocols. We are working closely with our contractors and the Edmonton Police Service as this investigation continues.”
Smith’s family takes comfort in each other and in their faith.
“My auntie Cathy is a believer in God,” said Martel.
“She’s with her son Christopher, who passed away 14 years ago tomorrow. She’s with her mom and dad and so many other people.
“I know she’s safe, and I know that she wants me to say that she’s safe.”