Family of teen struck and killed by vehicle in Mississauga files $4M lawsuit
Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017 5:00PM EDT
The family of a Mississauga teen killed in a traffic accident last year has launched a $4 million lawsuit against the municipality, the region and the driver.
Fifteen-year-old Madeleine Petrielli was walking home with her boyfriend near Glen Erin Drive and Britannia Road shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 when she was struck by a vehicle and killed.
She became the 76th pedestrian killed on Toronto roads in 2016.
Though the investigating into her death is still ongoing, investigators have determined that speed was not a factor in the collision.
The girl’s mother, Nicole Burnat acknowledges the fact that her daughter was jaywalking when the accident occurred but says Madeline faced a devastating consequence for her choice while the others involved have not.
The family believes other factors need to be considered as investigators determined why the accident happened, including faulty street lights at the intersection where Madeleine was killed.
“This is my way to get answers. I’ve tried to contact the city regarding the lights, I haven’t received any response,” she told CP24 from her home Wednesday.
“I believe there is shared responsibility and Madeline suffered the most extreme consequences with her life. I want the others involved to be held accountable.”
Michael Smitiuch, the family’s lawyer, told reporters that five streetlights at the intersection were out on the night of Madeline’s death.
“We’re still waiting for the complete police investigating to come out, it’s not completed. The indication is that both her and her boyfriend were crossing on a red light, that’s accurate. Now, that doesn’t change the fact that the city had a duty to help make the roads safer and that lighting definitely would have made a difference in this case,” Smitiuch said.
Since Madeleine’s death, the speed limit on Britannia Road has been lowered from 70 km/hr to 60 km/hr.
The family believes the change was a direct reaction to their daughter’s untimely death.
The $4 million lawsuit names the City of Mississauga, the Region of Peel among others and claims each party was negligent in maintaining proper lighting conditions at the intersection.
“Crossing the street shouldn’t be a matter of life and death, not when fixing something as simple as a faulty street light could have saved Maddie’s life,” Smitiuch said. “We shouldn’t have to remind municipalities of their responsibility to ensure streets and intersections meet minimal standards. Too many lives depend on it and Maddie’s life depended on it.”
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the city of Mississauga said its legal team is reviewing the lawsuit before issuing a public response.
The driver, who remained at the scene of the crash and cooperated with the police investigation, has also been named in the lawsuit. The driver’s son told a CP24 reporter Wednesday that their family is in shock since receiving the statement of claim today.
He said his father has been “so stressed out” because of the accident that he suffered a heart attack following the incident and is not doing well. The driver has not been charged in this case.
In the wake of Madeleine’s death, Toronto Mayor John Tory called an emergency meeting with the Chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee Coun. Jaye Robinson, Toronto Police and the city’s Transportation Services to fast track efforts to prevent pedestrian-related fatalities and collisions.
Tory vowed to speed up work on pedestrian safety corridors, launch a public education campaign and push the provincial government on implementing traffic cameras.
Burnat said she’ll never forget the phone call from the hospital.
“They said that police would pick me up but they wouldn’t tell me what it was. So I waited for the police. They did not show up and finally I got into my car twenty minutes later and drove to the hospital,” Burnat said of that December night.
“I couldn’t get there because the roads were blocked and I instantly knew something horrible had happened… and I was right.”