Manitoba

Family of pedestrian killed by construction truck search for information

The family of Tamara Orellan say they've been given little information about what happened when the 57-year-old was hit and killed by construction equipment on April 1.

Tamara Orellana was killed Monday in Garden City Shopping Centre's parking lot

Tamara's son Oliver and husband Jose say they want justice for their loved one. They say they have been given little information about how Tamara Orellana was killed. (Provided/ Oliver Muñoz)

The family of a 57-year-old woman who was run over and killed by construction equipment are desperately asking anyone with information to come forward.

Tamara Orellana was walking through the Garden City Shopping Centre parking lot Monday afternoon when she was hit by a construction truck.

"This whole situation has left our family devastated. I lost my sister suddenly, horrifically. No one should die like that,"  her sister Eliana Orellana told CBC News Sunday.

The incident happened near the former Sears, which is currently under construction. Winnipeg Police and Workplace Safety and Health are investigating.

The family say they want witnesses to come forward to help investigators figure out what happened — they want to know whether the truck driver was following the rules, and if someone is at fault.

Tamara Orellana moved to Winnipeg from Santiago, Chile 11 years ago. (Provided/Oliver Muñoz)

They say they've been given very little information, and even days after her death, haven't received any communication from anyone involved.

"The police has come down, and they've talked to us, but they're limited as to what they can say. That is still not good enough for us, because we need answers," Eliana said.

Eliana said police told her they expect the investigation will take between six to nine months.

"Our fear is that in six to nine months, it'll all be forgotten," Eliana said. "That can't be my sister's life. That can't be her legacy."

The family said they also want extra safety precautions put in place in the parking lot.

'That wasn't a little truck'

The family went to see Tamara's remains Saturday, and said that made it shockingly clear that this wasn't a minor accident.

"I don't wish that to anyone. That wasn't a little truck that ran her over," she said.

Tamara Orellana's family says they want answers to what happened to her. (Provided/Oliver Muñoz)

Eliana said she saw her sister the day before she was killed.

"I spent [last] Sunday with her, happy. We were having fun. And then [when I saw her remains], I did not recognize her. So it wasn't just a hit. It was horrific accident. Someone needs to be accountable," she said.

The family said they've been told there are no witnesses or video footage of what happened.

Loving, hardworking mother and grandmother

Orellana moved to Winnipeg 11 years ago from Santiago, Chile, working as a caregiver for her family, along with doing cleaning jobs and serving in restaurants. Three years ago she obtained her permanent residence card, and had been joined by her husband Jose.

Tamara Orellana (bottom right) with her husband Jose Muñoz, and their two children, Tamara and Oliver Muñoz. (Provided/Oliver Muñoz)

Orellana had two children living in Chile, who flew into Winnipeg earlier this week to help sort out her affairs.

Orellana had a grandson, and was looking forward to becoming a grandmother again, with her son and his partner expecting their first child this fall.

"My nephew is going to be a father. In the future, his children will never know their grandmother. Same goes with my niece. Her child, he'll grow up without his grandmother. The devastation this has done to us, we'll never get over it," Eliana said.

The family said Orellana worked hard so that her son and daughter could get a post-secondary education, eventually becoming a teacher and physician.

"She was a really strong woman. She fought for us, every day," said her son Oliver Muñoz. "We are broken."

Oliver Muñoz and his mother Tamara Orellana. Muñoz says he wants justice for his mother, who was killed on Monday while walking through a parking lot in Winnipeg. (Provided/Oliver Muñoz)

Muñoz said one of the hardest parts was returning to the spot where she was killed the day after the accident.

"I went to light some candles for her. It's a thing that people do in my country when people die…to give light for [her] soul," he said.

"People were working...I can't explain that."

The family has a funeral planned for Monday evening.

"It's a tragedy. She lived happy here. And now she's not here. And it's hard to understand," said Muñoz.

"I think the only way I will have peace is to have justice for my mom."

The family of a 57-year-old woman who was run over and killed by construction equipment are desperately asking anyone with information to come forward. 2:23

About the Author

Marina von Stackelberg is a CBC journalist based in Winnipeg. She previously worked for CBC in Halifax and Sudbury. Connect with her @CBCMarina or marina.von.stackelberg@cbc.ca

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