Blind World Magazine

Protest bus kills blind pedestrian & guide dog.

The Montreal Gazette, Canada.
Saturday, March 04, 2006.


Returning from trip to Ottawa. Accident results in 12th death this year

It was nearly the end of a successful day for a group of about 50 Montreal low-cost housing advocates.

They were on a bus just a couple of blocks from their office Thursday night, tired but pleased with a demonstration they had held outside Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Ottawa office that day.

But seconds after their bus turned on to Rene Levesque Blvd., they noticed people on the street were trying to get the driver to stop.

Their vehicle had struck a 47-year-old blind woman and her dog near Sanguinet St., killing them both. The woman became the second person killed in traffic downtown Thursday.

"The bus was going very slowly. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary," said Francois Saillant, a spokesperson for the Front d'Action populaire en Reamenagement Urbain, who was on the bus that night.

"We were all in a state of shock. We didn't understand what had happened."

The woman, whose name was not made public, had been at St. Luc Hospital. She was crossing the street when she was hit, Montreal police spokesperson Olivier Lapointe said.

Investigators are trying to figure out why she crossed the street where she did, he said.

"She was a little bit west of the (pedestrian crossing) at the intersection," Lapointe said.

Because the police investigation is continuing, Lapointe would not say whether the bus driver would face charges.

The driver of a flatbed truck that struck and killed a 48-year-old woman at de Maisonneuve Blvd. and McGill College Ave. earlier Thursday will not face charges, Lapointe said.

The driver did not see the woman, who was crossing the street on a green light about 11:15 a.m. while the truck made a left turn on to McGill College.

The two accidents bring to 12 the number of pedestrians who have been killed by vehicles in Montreal this year. According to Montreal police, 25 pedestrians were killed by vehicles in 2004 and 23 in 2005.

Another 211 people were severely injured by vehicles in 2004, while 216 were badly injured in 2005.

People who work with the blind in Montreal say there's a simple way to improve pedestrian safety: Give them more time to cross the street.

"It would be good not just for blind pedestrians, but also for older people," said Serge Poulin of the Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes de Montreal Metropolitain.

End of article.

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