Natalia Belykh doesn’t like coming to the spot where her daughter Nikita was killed. It’s a busy intersection and despite the large makeshift memorial of teddy bears, toys and flowers, along with a new tree planted just metres away in her daughter’s memory, Natalia would rather go to the cemetery.
“It’s more peaceful,” she said.
Natalia, her husband Mike, and the couple’s older daughter Maria came to North Thornhill Community Centre Thursday to announce that they’ve served the driver and the City of Vaughan a statement of claim.
The Belykh’s are seeking $7.5 million in damages, alleging that the driver was not only distracted, but travelling too fast and alleging that the City of Vaughan was negligent.
Last week, 33-year-old Thanh Nguyen of Mississauga was charged with careless driving causing death under the Highway Traffic Act. The family’s lawyer Michael Smitiuch said that it’s unlikely that Nguyen will face jail time, but more likely that she will be fined and have her driver’s license suspended.
It was Sept. 1 just before 11 a.m. when the 10-year-old was riding her bike home from swimming with a friend at the North Thornhill Community Centre. As she was cycling northbound on Pleasant Ridge Avenue, a driver exiting the community centre laneway, collided with Nikita’s bike, driving over her.
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Nikita died of her injuries in hospital.
In the statement of claim, the family alleges that Nguyen was not only distracted, but travelling too fast. The City of Vaughan is also being sued for negligence.
“The sad thing about this is, it’s our position that this accident was completely avoidable,” said Smitiuch.
The City of Vaughan released a statement to Global News which reads in part, “The incident on Pleasant Ridge Avenue in Vaughan was heartbreaking. As this matter is under litigation, the City cannot comment further at this time.”
The statement went on to say, “Community safety is a leading priority especially when it comes to road safety and the protection of our most vulnerable road users.”