An eight-year-old girl is dead and nine other pedestrians were injured after a horrific crash Tuesday evening on Riverside Drive in London, Ont.
The 76-year-old woman driving the vehicle involved was not taken to hospital, London police said in an update on Wednesday morning.
In an additional update Wednesday afternoon, police confirmed that 10 female pedestrians between the ages of six and 40 were injured in the crash, including the eight-year-old girl who has since died.
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An adult and four children are said to be in fair condition, another child is in good condition and one teenager and two other children were treated for minor injuries but have since been released from hospital.
Girl Guides of Canada confirmed to Global News that its members were among the pedestrians involved in the crash, however, the organization did not state how many of its members were involved, their ages, nor the extent of injuries those members sustained.
“Girl Guides of Canada is in contact with local volunteers to provide any support we can and we will help (the) London Police Service in any way possible in their investigation,” a spokesperson said Wednesday morning.
The Thames Valley District School Board confirmed Wednesday afternoon that four of its students, including the eight-year-old who was fatally injured, were among those hurt.
“On behalf of Thames Valley, I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and community members who have been affected by this sad event,” said Mark Fisher, the TVDSB’s director of education, in a statement. “We are also grateful for the actions of our first responders and hospital staff.”
“Members of the Board’s Traumatic Events Response Team have been dispatched to the affected schools to offer direct support to students and staff.”
Separately, the London District Catholic School Board confirmed that one of its Notre Dame Catholic Elementary School students was among those injured and in hospital.
In a letter sent home to Notre Dame parents, the board said the student had been walking with her Girl Guides group when she was struck. “The student is remaining at hospital and is presently in stable condition,” the letter reads.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with our student and the family at this time. An event like this can be difficult for a close community like ours. Please feel free to contact the school if you feel your child would benefit from speaking with an adult here at school.”
According to police, emergency services were called to Riverside Drive at Wonderland Road at roughly 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.
A 76-year-old woman was driving westbound on Riverside Drive, approaching Wonderland Road, when she struck a vehicle stopped at a red light, police said.
Police said she continued through the intersection, mounted a curb, struck a light post, struck a small tree and then struck a group of pedestrians heading eastbound on the north side of Riverside Drive toward Wonderland Road. The driver was not among those who were sent to hospital.
A spokesperson for Middlesex-London Paramedic Services said Tuesday night that it transported eight patients to hospital. Wednesday morning, London police stated that 11 people went to hospital though not all were transported by paramedics.
In the most recent update, Wednesday afternoon, police revised that number to 10 pedestrians in total who were treated in hospital, including the deceased.
Police say in addition to the vehicle struck at the red light, a second vehicle may have been hit.
“Initial information was that two vehicles were struck prior to the light post, the tree and the pedestrians. Right now, we have information in relation to one of those vehicles,” Bough said.
“If you were involved in a collision at this intersection, please give us a call.”
Carlos Talero witnessed the crash while driving down Wonderland Road after dropping off his mother-in-law in the Westmount neighbourhood.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t believe what I saw,” Talero, a pastor at My Beloved Jesus Christ in nearby Ilderton, told Global News.
He said he was heading northbound on Wonderland Road when he saw a vehicle heading westbound on Riverside that went through the red lights.
“I held the steering wheel so strong, just waiting for the impact. I first thought that this car crashed the car in front of me because there was a big cloud of pieces flying right in front of my windshield,” he said, though he was unable to determine the origin of the debris.
“Right after I saw the car that crossed the red lights, I saw the car going up, still on Riverside. This person hit the brakes because I could see the rear lights turning red. It was so, so fast that the car came to stop probably 100 metres after the intersection.”
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Talero said he didn’t see any pedestrians but he knew the crash was serious and had trouble sleeping last night. After learning more Wednesday morning, he said it was a miracle that the crash wasn’t worse and that the driver involved wasn’t killed.
“Our prayers are right now with all the victims and the families involved in this accident,” he said.
“God has been so, so faithful and merciful with us.”
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Bough added that no arrests have been made and no charges have been laid as of Wednesday morning.
“This is an ongoing investigation. It may take quite some time as traffic management unit officers are continuing to gather evidence and just figure out exactly what transpired.”
Bough reiterated comments from police on Tuesday night, stressing that there has been no indication this was an intentional act.
— with files from Andrew Graham, Matthew Trevithick, Sean O’Shea, Ryan Rocca