Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Violet Jia Liang: Girl killed in collision remembered as 'fantastic' and bright student at CW Jefferys in Toronto

A 14-year-old girl who was fatally struck by a vehicle near her high school Tuesday morning - a day before her birthday - is being remembered by her principal as a "fantastic" and bright student.

Violet Jia Liang was killed when she was hit by a large truck while crossing the street at Sentinel Road and Lamberton Boulevard around 7:50 a.m., about an hour before the new school year began.

Liang was walking to nearby C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, near Finch Avenue West and Keele Street, where she was enrolled in an enrichment program for grade 9 and 10 students, principal Monday Gala said.

Speaking to reporters outside the school, Gala said Liang was a "90 per cent student" who enriched the school.

This would have been Liang's second year at C.W. Jefferys, Gala said.

The teen would have turned 15 on Wednesday.

After the school learned of the student's death, grief counsellors were brought in to provide support to staff and students, who began classes after picking up their timetables in the morning.

Police are investigating the cause of the collision, which occurred at a T-shaped intersection that is controlled by a three-way stop.

A surveillance camera mounted on the wall of a nearby home recorded part of the incident and the homeowner has given the video to police to assist in their investigation, CP24's Cam Woolley reported.

The video, obtained by CTV News, shows the partially-obscured Mack truck passing by the home after making a turn and striking the girl. Seconds later, the 41-year-old man who was driving the truck runs back to the intersection.

Traffic services Const. Clint Stibbe said the teen was struck as the truck, heading north on Sentinel, made a left-hand turn onto Lamberton across from Elia Middle School.

After the collision, a citizen and paramedics performed CPR on Liang, but she died at the scene.

Education officials to review student safety

In addition to being the first day of school in Toronto, the death occurred on the first day of Toronto Police Service's back-to-school road safety campaign.

In response to the fatality, Toronto District School Board officials said they will work with police to determine what, if anything, can be done to improve student safety.

“We are very sorry to hear that there has been a death,” said TDSB director of education Donna Quan. “These are unfortunate incidents that happen in our community and every loss … is a loss for all of us.”

Quan said the TDSB is offering support to Liang's family.

At a news conference, Education Minister Liz Sandals offered condolences to the girl's family before she spoke to reporters about an all-day kindergarten study.

Sandals and Quan suggested it may be time to revisit the public safety training given to students to determine whether it is adequate, and they urged motorists to be cautious now that more students are on the streets heading to and from school.

Police are asking anyone with information about the collision to call investigators at 416-808-1900 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

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