Girl, 5, who died in after school collision, survived cancer at a young age
A five-year-old cancer survivor who was killed after becoming pinned between two vehicles near her school in Downsview on Monday has been identified by friends of the family.
The incident occurred at around 3:30 p.m. Monday as the young girl was being picked up by her father at St. Raphael Catholic School, near Keele Street and Wilson Avenue.
Police said just as the child was about to get into her father’s Mercedes SUV, an unoccupied Hyundai somehow became engaged in gear and drifted toward the Mercedes, pinning the child between the two vehicles.
The girl, who has been identified by family friends as Camila de Almeida, was rushed to hospital via emergency run but later died.
Speaking with CP24 on Tuesday, a friend of the family Ana Paula Carrera said the young girl battled cancer at the age of three.
“In the summer of 2016 she got diagnosed with cancer so her family battled this terrible situation with chemo and treatments and last February they told her that she was okay and then unfortunately this happened,” she said.
“This is horrible news and I can’t describe the pain (her parents) are going through.”
Carrera said the child’s mother called her from the hospital asking her to pray on Monday afternoon.
“She called me – I don’t remember at what exact time – but she was at the hospital and she asked me to pray and I don’t know how many hours after she called me to let me know that Camila unfortunately passed,” she said.
Carrera added that de Almeida and her young son were close friends.
“Of course he’s going to ask me about her but right now I don’t think it’s the right moment – I think he is too little to understand and I don’t know how he’ll take it.”
The owner of the Hyundai was also picking up a child when the incident occurred and a Toronto Catholic District School Board spokesperson said the spot where the senior kindergarten student was killed tends to be a high traffic area at the end of the day.
Speaking to CP24 on Tuesday morning, Ward 9 Coun. Maria Augimeri said police are often at area schools managing traffic when parents drop off and pick up their children.
“Parents have to be extra vigilant when they are dropping off their kids and picking them up. There is really like a maze to get through,” she said.
“Police do their best to try to keep a lid on the situation but accidents will happen. This is the most tragic one I have ever seen.”
She added that last year, the city did a “clean-up” of all the area schools, putting up “no parking” and “no stopping” signs to improve safety.
“The officers were here yesterday morning. The officers from 31 Division do their best to come out here and patrol,” she said. “Just last week, the police were handing out parking infractions to parents.”
It is not yet clear whether driver error or mechanical issues led to the collision.
Grief counsellors attend school
On Tuesday morning, several parents and students were seen placing flowers and teddy bears at the scene.
The TCDSB said a team of grief counsellors will be on hand at the school on Tuesday to help students and teachers cope with the tragedy.
“This is a very tragic time for our community, especially for the families involved. We’ve gathered here this morning as a staff to provide support and prayer. We’ve offered to the community, and we have here today, support staff, psychologists, social workers, a pastoral team,” TCDSB Supt. Michael Caccamo said.
“We recognize that everyone will deal with this in a very different way and so we are here to provide whatever kind of support we can today and throughout the week. We are going to be setting up a memorial table in the school for staff and students to reflect and pray and leave any kinds of thoughts and prayers for the family.”