1 killed, 3 injured as motorcycle collides with students outside Surrey high school

JENNIFER SALTMAN AND STEPHANIE IP

RCMP investigate a fatal motorcycle accident in the 6900 block of 128th Street in Surrey Wednesday September 18, 2013. Three teenage females were struck by a motorcyclist mid-block and it was reported one person was killed. (Ric Ernst / PNG)

VANCOUVER DESI 

Residents and business owners say a crosswalk may have prevented a horrific crash that killed a teenage girl and injured three other people near a Surrey high school Wednesday.

Witnesses say that around 11:30 a.m. three young women, Gr. 12 students at Princess Margaret Secondary School, crossed the northbound lanes of 128th Street near 69A Avenue.

Holding hands, they waited on the wide median, then stepped into the southbound lanes, where they were hit by a motorcycle.

Sandeep Kaur, who works at a travel agency directly across from the scene, said she heard the crash and when she looked out the window she saw four people lying in the street surrounded by debris and shoes.

“It was horrible,” Kaur said, tears filling her eyes.

The motorcyclist and one student were taken to hospital in an ambulance while the two other students travelled by helicopter. The two surviving students remain in critical condition and the motorcycle driver is in serious condition.

Although police did not release the names of the victims, friends identified the student who died as 16-year-old Amarpreet Sivia and the injured students as Jaspreet Dhami and Shahana Samira.

Hamida Rahman, 17, has known the three young women since Gr. 8 and told The Province they were all part of the leadership program and involved in a number of groups.

Amarpreet Sivia, seen here in a photo from an online profile, was killed Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013 when a motorcyclist struck her and two other girls on around 11:30 a.m. when the girls, Grade 12 students at Princess Margaret Secondary, crossed the northbound lanes of 128th Street near 69A Avenue. She was 16. This photo is undated. (WEBSITE PHOTO)

“They were leaders in the school,” she said.

Rahman described Sivia as very friendly and outgoing.

“She was just a friendly person,” she said. “She just made everybody’s day.”

One teen, who was in tears and declined to give her name, described all three of the students as “just really nice people.”

Sivia also appeared to be a top student, having made the honour roll in previous years at Princess Margaret.

Following the accident, letters were also sent home with each student explaining the day’s events and how students can access grief counselling and support services.

Police were unable to say Wednesday afternoon what factors contributed to the crash, however there are no crosswalks near where the teens were hit. The closest traffic lights or marked crosswalks are at 72nd and 68th avenues, which are almost a kilometre apart.

Mehmood Chaudhry, who lives on 128th Street, said he and his family regularly hear screeching tires and cars speeding past on the busy thoroughfare. He warns his children not to cross in front of their home.

“They think like it’s some racing field or something,” he said.

Sandeep Kaur said students from the high school are always running across the street during the lunch hour to the strip mall to grab pizza, samosas or snacks.

“There should be lights or there should be something because every day so many students cross the road,” she said.

Pizza shop owner Gurinder Sangha went one step further and suggested an overpass, but said even installing a crosswalk would improve the situation.

“They needed to before this happened,” he said. “That is a mistake for the City of Surrey.”

According to city engineer Philip Bellefontaine, a comprehensive safety review of Surrey’s schools was conducted in 2010.

Following that review, some $200-million worth of changes was spearheaded throughout the city, ranging from changes in school parking restrictions, to new signage or crosswalks near school grounds.

Those changes, however, did not include a new crosswalk along 128th near Princess Margaret Secondary, although Bellefontaine said the school’s report did discuss the possibility.

“It was identified as something that should be looked at but (further analysis) showed that this crosswalk would not be warranted,” Bellefontaine said, noting the study looked at pedestrian demand, as well as volume and speed of traffic.

Now, due to the safety concerns raised by the fatal accident, Bellefontaine said the city will revisit the suggestion of a crosswalk near the school.
Bellefontaine said the city will await the results of the police investigation and cause of accident before beginning their own safety review.

jensaltman@theprovince.com
twitter.com/jensaltman
sip@theprovince.com
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