The grieving family of five-year-old Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger still has questions about how the little girl could have been struck and killed by a city garbage truck Thursday.
Kayleigh’s father, Jacob Callaghan, says he doesn’t know what to say to the 64-year-old man who was behind the wheel of that truck.
“If it was a mistake, I’m sorry he’s going to have to live with it,” Callaghan said. “If he could have prevented it, he took my daughter away from me. My baby girl. She meant everything to me.”
The driver has not been charged by Toronto Police.
The accident occurred when a city garbage truck travelling westbound on East Haven Dr. turned southbound onto Cliffside Dr. striking three of four children crossing the street. Two of the children, a five-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl, suffered minor injuries. Kayleigh died at the scene.
Toronto Police Const. Clint Stibbe said the investigation is ongoing and that alcohol is not believed to be a factor.
Several witnesses said the garbage truck driver jumped from the cab after the crash and fell to the ground after seeing the children. He was transported to hospital after the incident.
Callaghan, tears welling up in his eyes, said he was still in shock as he visited a makeshift memorial for his daughter. He took a few moments to clean off a teddy bear that had fallen into some mud near the sidewalk.
“There should be a crosswalk or a crossing guard around here,” he said. “This could have been prevented.”
A number of neighbours who spoke with the Toronto Sun agree, adding that sidewalks and speed bumps would also help.
“I’m always seeing people having to get onto grassy areas to avoid the vehicles,” said Heather Candon, who has started a petition to have the city put in sidewalks on website Change.org.
CUPE Local 416 president Mark Ferguson, the union which represents garbage truck drivers, said his thoughts were with Kayleigh’s family.
“None of us can imagine what they must be going through at this time,” Ferguson said in a statement.
At Kayleigh’s school, Cliffside Public, the flag flew at half-mast. Teachers and parents wore white ribbons in her memory and grief councillors were at the school to help students cope.
“Students were upset, staff were upset,” Principal Ken Samuels said, who remembered her positive energy and devotion to Justin Bieber. “You can understand, it was a day we didn’t expect and it was a very upsetting day.”
Visitation has been set for Tuesday from 5 p.m to 9 p.m. at McDougall & Brown Funeral Home at 2900 Kingston Rd. The funeral will be on Wednesday at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church at 131 Birchmount Rd. at 10 a.m.
—Files from Don Peat