Family seeks accountability

Jan 15, 2006 | Articles

Montreal police have ruled out criminal charges against the driver of the truck that struck and killed Jessica Holman-Price on Dec. 19, but he still could be charged under Quebec’s Highway Code.

Montreal police have ruled out criminal charges against the driver of the truck that struck and killed Jessica Holman-Price on Dec. 19, but he still could be charged under Quebec’s Highway Code.

The family of the 21-year-old victim are outraged that the driver could be slapped with a simple traffic fine when witnesses at the scene say the truck’s wheels went up on the sidewalk as it turned right from Strathcona Ave. on to Sherbrooke St., knocking Jessica and her 10-year-old brother down. Jessica slipped under the truck’s back wheels as she pushed her brother to safety.

“There has to be some accountability,” Jessica’s mother, Jeannette Holman-Price, said in a recent interview.

The truck belonged to a private contractor. Investigators found three minor defects on the vehicle, but none of them could have caused the accident, Montreal police Constable Laurent Gingras said. He couldn’t say what the defects were.

He said police might also recommend the city of Westmount put in a special crosswalk at the corner, because so many children cross the intersection to get to Westmount Park on the south side of Sherbrooke St.

Holman-Price’s death was the 21st in five years in Quebec involving a snow removal vehicle.

The day after her death – and the same day Mayor Gerald Tremblay sent a memo to all city road workers to be more careful and to respect the Highway Code – a 76-year-old man in Riviere des Prairies was killed by a snow removal truck, bringing the number of deaths to 22. Of those, five were pedestrians and the rest were people in vehicles that collided with snow removal equipment.

There were seven deaths in 2003 alone.

Coroner Jean-Noel Goupil is investigating the most recent deaths to prevent the same thing from happening again, spokesperson Marie Eve Bilodeau said.

“He’ll look at things like why didn’t the driver see the woman, for example, and if things need to be improved on the trucks,” Bilodeau said.

Holman-Price’s family says their daughter’s death highlights the need for an immediate review by the city of Montreal of how trucks are maintained and operated in the city, along with a study of drivers’ behaviour and policing in general.

City councillor Marcel Tremblay, the executive committee member who oversees services to residents, says the city is caught in a difficult situation.

“We got 42 centimetres of snow (that weekend) and people want us to clear it quickly, but we have to do it safely, too.”

Source: The Gazette (Montreal)

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