Toronto teen fatally struck by truck remembered as 'fantastic student'
A teenage girl has died after being struck by a truck in Toronto’s northwest end Tuesday morning.
Violet Jia Liang, 14, was walking to C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute for her first day of school when she was hit by a large commercial truck at Sentinel Rd. and Lamberton Blvd.
Police say the northbound truck was making a left turn from Sentinel onto Lamberton when Liang was hit. She died at the scene.
The T-shaped intersection is controlled by a three-way stop.
Investigators were at the scene Tuesday morning reconstructing the collision and gathering evidence. They are also reviewing footage of the incident captured by a surveillance camera mounted on a nearby home.
The footage, obtained by CTV News, shows a truck passing by the home after making a turn. Seconds later, a man, believed to be the driver, runs back to the intersection.
“It’s too early to determine whether or not she was actually crossing at the appropriate area of the roadway,” said Traffic Services Const. Clint Stibbe. “We know she was in the area based on the residual evidence at the scene.”
Police are also asking witnesses to come forward with information.
C.W. Jefferys principal Monday Gala said Liang was a “90 per cent student” starting her second year at C.W. Jefferys, in the Grade 9 and 10 enrichment program.
“A fantastic student with whom I shared a few really very good moments with in the school,” he told reporters.
According to a neighbour, Liang often came to school early to help her teachers prepare for class. Wednesday would have been her 15th birthday.
Family friend Cindy Tran said Liang was a talented, funny and loving girl.
“She was always happy and she always knew how to make people laugh,” Tran said.
Hung Luu, whose daughter was best friends with Liang, visited the collision scene Tuesday, bringing incense sticks and saying a prayer.
Michelle Wellington didn’t know Liang, but brought a candle.
“I have four kids. It could have been one of mine,” she said.
Grief counsellors were at the school Tuesday to help students and staff cope with the tragedy.
“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.”
At a news conference earlier Tuesday, Ontario Education Minister Liz Sandals expressed her condolences to Liang’s family said the accident is an “unfortunate reminder” to motorists that they must be extra careful this time of year, as students head back to the school.
Liang’s death occurred on the first day of Toronto Police Service’s back-to-school road safety campaign.
As police try to piece together exactly what happened, one area resident told CP24’s Cam Woolley she’s been concerned about commercial traffic in the residential neighbourhood.
“The speed limit is 40, and I can tell that these trucks have been going 60 to 70 some days during the summer,” she said. “To have these happen on the first day of school is such a tragic event, but when I woke up I was fuming because I knew something like this would happen.”
With files from CTV Toronto’s Tamara Cherry and CP24