‘An indescribable tragedy’: Messages of condolence, support pour in following London, Ont. crash

Click to play video: 'London, Ont., mourns death of 8-year-old girl struck by vehicle'
London, Ont., mourns death of 8-year-old girl struck by vehicle
WATCH ABOVE: A group of Girl Guides are among those recovering from injuries after a car stuck ten pedestrians in London. An eight-year-old girl died early Wednesday. Ontario Premier Doug Ford came to the scene of the crash to pay his respects. Seán O’Shea reports – Dec 1, 2021

Messages of condolence and heartbreak continue to pour in following the death of an eight-year-old girl, fatally injured Tuesday night after she and nine others were struck by a vehicle that mounted the curb in the west end of London, Ont.

London-area community leaders and residents, as well as local, provincial and federal politicians, including the prime minister, have been among those offering words of support following the tragedy, which occurred around 6:45 p.m. along Riverside Drive west of Wonderland Road.

“This is beyond tragic. All Londoners share in this grief. Our thoughts also remain fixated on those still in hospital as we hope and pray for complete recoveries,” London Mayor Ed Holder said in a tweet issued shortly before the noon hour.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford offered similar sentiments, with Trudeau tweeting that the news from London “breaks my heart.”

“To the family and friends of the child who passed away, know that Canadians across the country are here for you. And to those who were injured, we’re wishing you all a fast and full recovery. We’ll be keeping you in our thoughts,” he said.

A photo of the crash site as seen Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021. Credit: Mable Flannigan

In a statement, Ford, who was set to arrive in London late Wednesday afternoon to visit the crash scene and lay flowers, said his heart broke for the family of the girl who died.

“The rest of Ontario is grieving with you during this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are also with those who were injured, as I wish for their full recovery.”

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Erin O’Toole, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, said in a tweet that it was “heartbreaking to read of this tragic loss of life.”

“I can’t imagine the devastation that family and friends are feeling today. Know that all of Canada is grieving with you,” he said.

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At least 10 female pedestrians ranging in age from six to 40 were injured, with several transported to hospital by paramedic services, including the girl who later died, police said.

In a statement, Girl Guides of Canada confirmed that its members were among those involved. No further information was provided, and a followup inquiry was not returned.

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,” Mark Fisher, the TVDSB’s director of education, said 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.”

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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.”

A small memorial sits along Riverside Drive near Wonderland Road on Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. Scott Monich/980 CFPL

In an update early Wednesday afternoon, police said at least four children and one adult remained in hospital in fair condition, while one child was hospitalized in good condition. One teen and two children suffered minor injuries and have since been released from hospital.

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The 76-year-old driver behind the wheel of the vehicle involved was not injured in the crash, police said.

Police said preliminary investigation has revealed the motorist had been driving westbound on Riverside Drive when she struck a vehicle stopped at a red light at Wonderland. Riverside Drive slopes downward toward the intersection, however the cause of the initial crash is unclear.

The vehicle continued through the intersection, mounted a curb, struck a light post, struck a small tree and then struck a group of pedestrians who had been walking eastbound on the north side of Riverside, police said.

Investigators have stated that there was nothing to indicate it was an intentional act. It’s believed a second vehicle may also have been hit, and police are asking that driver to come forward.

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“My heart goes out to the family who have lost their young daughter in this tragic accident and prayers to the rest of the people recovering,” Arielle Kayabaga, the MP for London West, the riding where the collision occurred, said in a tweet.

“Strength to families and our #LdnOnt community as we process this.”

Other London-area politicians, including MPs Teresa Armstrong and Peter Fragiskatos, as well as MPPs Monte McNaughton, Peggy Sattler and Terence Kernaghan were among those who issued statements of support, with Fragiskatos calling the incident an “indescribable tragedy.”

“Our community will keep the family in our thoughts and continue to hope for the recovery of those still in hospital. Thank you to police and all first responders for their ongoing work,” he said in a tweet.

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No arrests had been made and no charges had been laid as of Wednesday afternoon, according to police.

“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,” said Const. Sandasha Bough.

Anyone with information is asked to contact London police or Crime Stoppers.

— with files from Jacquelyn LeBel, Andrew Graham, and Ryan Rocca.

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