A local grade 11 student was left fighting for his life on Tuesday, the first day of the school year, after being struck by a vehicle in Peterborough’s north end.
The student was airlifted to a Toronto hospital in critical condition, according to a press release from Peterborough Police.
He had just disembarked from a Peterborough Transit bus near the intersection of Hilliard and Langton streets on Tuesday morning when a vehicle struck him, according to police
It happened just a few hundred meters from the front door of Adam Scott Collegiate and Vocational Institute and Intermediate School, raising questions about pedestrian safety along a stretch of Hilliard St. that passes the school.
“Our thoughts are first and foremost with the student and his family as we wish for a full recovery,” reads a joint statement from Adam Scott C.V.I. Principal Wilf Gray and Jennifer Murphy, principal of the intermediate school.“We are in touch with his family and we know you join us as we continue to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.”
Mental health counselors arrived at the school on Tuesday to support students who witnessed the collision, according to the statement posted on the school’s website.
Some students leaving Adam Scott C.V.I. on Tuesday afternoon expressed concern for the injured student, who has not been identified.
Grade 9 student Rylee Moore said it was “shocking” that someone could be hit by a vehicle after getting off a transit bus. She said she felt safe walking on Hilliard St. before, “but after hearing that, it’s a little nerve racking.”
Another student, Mark Begin said he saw the injured student laying on the grass that morning. “I was scared for him,” he said.
Shannon Wickman was waiting outside the school on Tuesday afternoon to walk her son home. She said she has long had safety concerns about traffic in the area. Another son of hers was hit by a vehicle while using the crosswalk at Hilliard and McLennan streets a few years ago while walking to school, she said. He was not badly injured, she said, but the incident has left her shaken.
She said she’s seen vehicles speeding along that stretch of Hilliard St., where the speed limit is 50 kilometers per hour. “Especially in a school zone, it should be a lot slower,” she said.
She also said there aren’t enough crosswalks and nor are there any crossing guards for Grade 7 and 8 students who attend Adam Scott Intermediate School.
Grade 12 student Robert Morgan said reducing the speed limit in the area might help improve safety, along with posting signs to alert drivers that it’s a school zone, as there are currently none.
“Safety is our number one concern,” Gray, the principal of Adam Scott C.V.I., said in an interview with Peterborough Currents. “We always keep track of these issues. And we will review and reflect as we go.”
The collision is still being investigated, according to the press release Peterborough Police issued on Tuesday. No charges have been announced, nor have police said whether speeding was a factor.
Jaime Akiyama works with schools to encourage students to walk, cycle or take transit to school, as chair of Active School Travel Peterborough. She said she was “devastated” to hear about the collision.
She wants to see speed limits reduced to 30 kilometers per hour in front of schools, as well as on adjacent streets that students use to travel to school.
She pointed to research that shows that lowering speed limits can reduce the severity of injury when pedestrians are struck by vehicles. According to the World Health Organization, a pedestrian has a 90 percent chance of survival if they are hit by a vehicle going 30 kilometers an hour. The survival rate drops to 50 percent if the vehicle is travelling 45 kilometers an hour.
And a pedestrian has almost zero chance of surviving an impact at 80 kilometers an hour.
“We can hopefully improve our community to be safe, and so that we can get the benefits of being active and healthy and outside,” Akiyama said.
Brett Throop is a reporter based in Peterborough. He previously worked as a radio producer for CBC in Ottawa and Toronto. His writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, the Edmonton Journal, the Ottawa Citizen, Canadian Architect and the Peterborough Examiner.