Surrey to reconsider installing crosswalk after student dies in crash with motorcycle

ACCIDENT

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.

ELAINE O’CONNOR
THE PROVINCE 

Surrey RCMP are appealing for a witness to come forward who may have some clues in the death of a 16-year-old Surrey high school student Wednesday.

Amarpreet Sivia was killed and two other Princess Margaret Secondary students, Jaspreet Dhami and Shahana Samira, were injured when a motorcycle collided with them at about 11:30 a.m.

The accident occurred when the girls were jaywalking across the southbound lanes of 129th Street near 69A Avenue.

Police said Thursday that they were “specifically looking to speak with the driver of the vehicle that was passed by the motorcyclist leading up to this collision.”

RCMP reported that it appeared the motorcycle was travelling in the slow lane when it changed lanes around this vehicle and then hit the three teenagers.

The Grade 12 students were holding hands and had crossed the northbound lanes successfully, waiting on the median before stepping out and getting hit.

The two surviving students remain in critical condition and the motorcycle driver is in serious condition.

Area residents reported that students frequently jaywalked at that section to quickly get to the other side during school breaks, rather than cross at the nearest crosswalk at 72nd Avenue.

Surrey Mayor Diane Watts expressed sadness at the loss of life and injuries at the school Thursday, but would not commit to putting a crosswalk in at that location.

“It is such a tragedy when young lives are lost like that,” Watts said.

The mayor said the city would study the location to review safety measures, but stressed she would not make any changes until seeing the results of the police investigation.

“We will absolutely go back and have another look and see if there’s other things we can do,” Watts said. “At the end of the day we want to make sure the kids are safe.”

Student jaywalking was also an issue in the district near North Surrey Secondary, until the city put up a barrier on the median.

However, Watts stressed that infrastructure must be matched with education, since in that case, “the kids were leaping over the fence.”

On Thursday, a few youths in the area were seen still jaywalking at the same spot where Sivia was struck at the school lunch break.

However, shortly after, school district staff stood outside the school directing students to cross safely at 72nd Avenue and prevent further jaywalking.

Students refused to comment on what happened Wednesday or on the need for a crosswalk at the school.

Surrey School District spokesman Doug Strachan said about four safe schools department staff were dispatched to Princess Margaret to assist the school, and a few would be “on the sidewalks during the lunch break near the accident to encourage the students to use the crosswalks at either end of the street.”

Strachan could not say how long the staff would remain on site to monitor students, but said the district would evaluate the need for their assistance on a” day-by-day” basis.

He added that teachers had also issued reminders to students about safe crossing during class, And that some parents had been seeking counselling at the school, in the wake of the tragedy.

Surrey city city engineer Philip Bellefontaine told The Province Wednesday that a comprehensive safety review of Surrey’s schools was conducted in 2010, prompting $200 million in road safety upgrades.

However, the report did not lead to a new crosswalk at the location of the fatal crash, even though that possibility was discussed in the report.

“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.

Cpl. Bert Paquet asked that anyone with information contact the Surrey RCMP Criminal Collision Investigation Team at (604) 599-0502.­

eoconnor@theprovince.com

twitter.com/elaine_reporting

— with files from Frank Luba

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