Posted in: Safety,
by Gregg Laskoski on Mar 15, 2014 06:00 AM
The Toronto Star reports that three sisters have now been hit by three different drivers on three different occasions — all at the same intersection in the city's North York area.
One incident was trauma enough for their mother, Judith Jung, a teacher who was called out of work each time. But three incidents is just maddening, and highlights the need for drivers to pay more attention to pedestrians, she said.
The siblings — twins Felicity and Genevieve Jung, 18, and Mary Frances Rizzuto, 32 — were hit as they crossed Beecroft Rd. at Park Home Ave., in the Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave. W. area, where the family home is located.
They say they had the green light, and were not listening to music or talking on their phones when crossing. In each case, the driver was charged, and gave the same explanation: they simply didn’t see the young woman. What's going on there?
The Jung family’s bizarre tale of pedestrian misfortune begins with Rizzuto, who,was headed to school on the last day of her teachers’ college internship the morning of May 26, 2011.
As she crossed Beecroft, a westbound vehicle made a left turn and struck her. She landed on her right side, crushing her lunch bag.
“I remember lying on the ground. I may have been knocked out, because I don’t remember falling,” said Rizzuto. “But once I called my dad, I started crying.”
The family says the driver came over in tears and apologized, while someone called the paramedics. Today, they say Rizzuto has lasting damage to one of her legs, forcing her to walk at times with a cane, and limiting her ability to drive or climb stairs.
Less than a month later, on June 20, Felicity was walking to school for an exam. An eastbound driver on Park Home turned right, hitting the teenager from behind. The driver stopped to quickly check on her, but then left the scene, they allege.
The final incident happened last Dec. 11, when Genevieve, on her way to teach band, was crossing Beecroft with Felicity and was hit by a car turning left off Park Home. She landed on her trumpet case.
“I don’t even remember what the driver looked like. I just remember him asking ‘Are you OK?’ ” said Genevieve. “I was trying not to freak out, but when other people helped me off the road, that’s when I went into shock and started shaking and crying a lot.”
The twins had, in fact, experienced a close call at the same intersection before, although they don’t remember it. When they were babies, an older sister was walking them across the street when a car turned and brushed up against the stroller.
It’s not so much the intersection that is the problem, said their mother, but rather bad drivers.
“I’m angry. I really am. The drivers treat you as if you shouldn’t be blocking their way,” she said.
For the past three years, Judith Jung has tried to make her case with the city’s transportation services, which, coincidentally, is the employer of her husband, George. She’s urged them to add speed bumps to the intersection, where she says two cyclists were also hit by cars in the same three-year period, as well as reduce the speed limit on Park Home from 50 km/h to 40 km/h.
Recently, the department placed signs reminding drivers to yield to pedestrians, and it is also promising to add a left-turn signal for drivers and zebra lines on the crosswalks when the weather improves.
“Anything we can do to enhance it, we’re going to try,” said Kyp Perikleous, director of transportation services for North York.
Compounding the problem is that Park Home Ave. is one of the few east-west streets in the area between Senlac Rd. and Yonge St., pushing more cars onto the avenue, while Beecroft Rd. has become a popular alternative to the often problematic Yonge St. A development boom has also brought more traffic to the neighborhood.
The sisters say they will be forever marked by their experience at the intersection, but particularly Rizzuto, the only one of the three with lasting physical pain. A new mother — she gave birth to Augustus last December — she is suing the insurance company of the driver who hit her.
Her physiotherapy has already cost $15,000, with no end in sight, she said. If she wants to walk around for a long time, she said she requires a wheelchair, and due to her reduced mobility, she’s unable to go on field trips with her students.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Rizzuto. “And frustrating.” But perhaps most heartbreaking of all, she’s worried that as her baby son gets heavier, she’ll no longer be able to lift him.