CALGARY – Sam Toulon is replaying the tragedy over and over again, wondering what she could have done differently. Her four-year-old daughter, Avayah, was killed when she was hit by a truck Friday night. The young girl was struck as she was crossing 47 Avenue N.W.
The Calgary mother was walking home from the Bow River with her husband and six of her children along 79 Street in Bowness Friday at 8 p.m.
“We had my son’s dog with us,” said Toulon. “There was a man on the opposite side of the street with a dog, and he started to walk over with the dog. I walked on ahead, my husband had the dog behind us, the children were walking in front of me. When they got to the intersection they stopped. They know the rules; they walk to school every day, they bike to school every day.”
When they got to the intersection of 47 Avenue and 79 Street, Toulon said her children asked if it was safe to cross.
“I looked to make sure it was safe, and I said yes,” Toulon said.
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Police said the driver of a pickup truck stopped to let the family cross, but then proceeded when Avayah tried to get across the road to reach her siblings.
“I screamed ‘stop!’ and she was on the driver’s side, so she was halfway across the road. And my son said, ‘Avi, run’ and the guy hits her and then he went…and the back wheels went over her as well,” recalled Toulon through tears.
The driver of the truck stayed at the scene. Police say charges are not pending against the driver, however the investigation is not complete.
Both Toulon and her husband, Craig, agree with the police assessment that the driver was not speeding, but they hope the tragedy serves as a reminder for drivers to pay more attention when children are around.
“They had already crossed. They had got to the other side. Avi was just a little bit behind. It’s all open. How can you not see?” wondered Toulon.
Support is now pouring in for the family.
“It’s been incredible. It’s always been a close-knit community (Bowness) but I do think since the floods, it’s just pulled it that much tighter together and the outpouring has been incredible,” said Christa Young, who started a GoFundMe page for the Toulons.
“They are amazing–incredible. The biggest hearts in the world. I know they would’ve done the same thing for anybody else,” said Young, whose son goes to school with one of the Toulon children.
A man who lives down the street, still distraught from witnessing the tragedy on Friday, has built a pedestal for the flowers and toys that keep piling up at the intersection where the girl was killed. Young hopes to raise money to allow Craig Toulon to stay home with his family in the coming weeks. He is the only source of income for the family of eight children.
“With Craig being the sole provider for the family–a large family–it was the only thing I could think of to keep him home where he needs to be,” Young said.