Mom of Calgary boy who died after skateboarding crash thankful for support, changes to city park

Click to play video: 'Mom of Calgary boy who died after a skateboarding crash is thankful for changes to Confederation Park' Mom of Calgary boy who died after a skateboarding crash is thankful for changes to Confederation Park
WATCH: The City of Calgary has made changes in a northwest park after a teen suffered fatal injuries and another was critically injured. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Jul 6, 2021

The City of Calgary has made changes in a north west park after a teen suffered fatal injuries there last year, and another was recently critically injured.

Jhamir Catajan was a Grade 8 student at St. Joseph School, and is remembered as a gentle soul who loved music and easily made friends.

“Jhamir was a very kind person. He was always putting others first before himself,” his mom Miraflor Nieto told Global News.

On June 15, 2020 Jhamir was skateboarding down a hill in Confederation Park when witnesses said he tried to avoid a child on the path, and crashed into a bridge. The 14-year-old died two days later.

Read more: ‘She touched lots of lives’: Family, police confirm girl drowned in Calgary lake

The place where Jhamir was injured is an intersection of two pathways at the base of a hill.

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On June 21 of this year, 12-year-old Alex Running Rabbit and his little brother Morris were riding their bikes down the hill at the same spot, when Alex swerved to avoid a pedestrian and hit the bridge. He was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Morris called 911 and tried to help his brother, who was bleeding from a wound to his abdomen as he cried out in fear.

“I took off my shirt and put it around his stomach,” Morris recalled. “The first thing he yelled when I was close to him was: ‘I don’t want to die, mom,’ because of how much blood he was losing.”

Alex spent two weeks in hospital and was discharged on Monday

“The doctors told me if the pole hit somewhere else, I wouldn’t have made it,” Alex said.

News of second crash at the same spot prompted community members to take action.

Read more: ‘I lost my partner. It’s hard’: Calgary widow pleads with drivers to watch for cyclists and pedestrians

“I was devastated,” said Amanda Halek, a parent who lives in the area.

“I couldn’t believe that another family was having their lives ripped apart. We realized that people don’t know that this is a safety hazard — that could’ve been any kid.

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“We’re not just doing it for our kids or our school community. We love this park and we are in this park every day. Let’s make it safer. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Parents and students from St. Joseph School, where both Jhamir and Alex were students, set up a memorial at the bridge to honour Jhamir.

People have also been leaving chalk messages of support, and community members contacted the city to request changes be made at the intersection to improve safety.

Read more: Calgary teen who suffered brain injury after being struck by SUV thanks community for support

“It’s really unfortunate that it took a second accident for things to happen, but it’s fabulous how these moms have really pulled together and done a lot of advocating and contacted so many people to make change happen here,” said Rebecca Sagan a local parent who tried to help Jhamir on the day he was injured.

At the end of June, the city painted warnings on the pathway, extended the railings on the bridge and trimmed branches to improve visibility. According the city, permanent signage encouraging users to slow down will also be put up at the intersection.

“A safety review of the pathway in the area will now be undertaken to identify potential longer-term safety enhancements to the area,” the city said in a statement.

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“If that process identifies any feasible enhancements, they will be implemented.”

Jhamir’s mom is overwhelmed by the show of support from Jhamir’s classmates and park users.

“The first time that I saw this memorial I was really shocked because I never thought the whole community would organize this memorial for him. It’s really a heartwarming thing,” she said.

“It’s for the community to be aware of what happened so it never happens again.”

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