Duncan Xu, 11, left school 'laughing' before he was struck and killed, principal says
Mayor John Tory meeting with staff to determine what more can be done to ensure safety in school zones
An 11-year-old boy struck and killed as he left school Tuesday afternoon was remembered as a well-liked child who walked out of the building laughing with his friends.
Police and paramedics were called to Canongate Trail and Purcell Square, near Kennedy Road and Steeles Avenue, around 3:30 p.m. for reports that a child had been struck.
The boy, identified as Duncan Xu by his school principal and a parent of a fellow student, was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition and died in hospital, Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe told CBC Toronto.
Xu was a student at Kennedy Public School, which had just let out for the day. The driver of the vehicle remained at the scene.
Principal Frank Liu said Wednesday it's "a difficult day at our school. It's a very sad day for our students and staff."
He extended condolences to Xu's family, and described the child as well-liked and a good student.
"He left the building laughing yesterday and the tragedy is we won't hear that laugh in the days ahead," Liu told reporters Wednesday morning.
The flag outside the school was flying at half-mast.
Crossing guard Gus Kanellos, who works at the corner outside the school, said he has lived in the area for 35 years and watched the school being built. He described the area as "very busy," pausing numerous times to help children across the road.
"The kids who are going here never had any accidents," he told CBC Toronto. "It's the first time."
Liu, the principal, said school officials will keep looking at ways to improve safety.
'Where's the human kindness?'
Coun. Jim Karygiannis, whose ward includes the area, said he had been working with school and city officials, as well as parents, to make safety improvements in the community. Those include making the crescent one way during school drop-off and pick-up hours, and the recent addition of a "kiss and ride" outside the school. He also would like a back gate to the school property closed so fewer children will cross mid-block.
"Certainly, more needs to be done in this area," Karygiannis told CBC Toronto at the scene Tuesday night.
He also took exception to a cellphone video, taken by an area resident, that appeared to show the boy on the road after he was struck and cars driving by without stopping.
"Where's the human decency? Where's the human kindness? It's a kid in the middle of the street and, from what I've seen in the video, it's an inconvenience," Karygiannis said.
He said public education is also necessary, in addition to more safety measures.
"You can go home a couple of minutes later," he said. "That could have been your kid there. How would you feel if those other parents didn't get out of the car to help them?"
'We cannot have this carnage continue'
Asked about the incident Wednesday morning during a transit announcement, Toronto Mayor John Tory noted that the city's goal with its Vision Zero road safety plan is zero pedestrian deaths, "and we're a long way from that."
Last week, former chief city planner Jennifer Keesmaat called pedestrian deaths "a crisis." As of last Thursday, the number of pedestrian deaths in the city had already hit eight. Last month, a five-year-old girl was struck and killed in her school parking lot.
Tory convened a meeting with his staff both Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to look at what measures could be adopted to keep children safe in school zones, describing the scene outside some schools in the mornings and afternoons as "utter chaos."
"We have to decide that the safety of those kids is more important than whatever it might cost to put a traffic circle in front of the school," he said.
While pedestrians have responsibilities to ensure their safety, drivers need to slow down and "pay more attention" on the road, Tory said.
"We cannot have this carnage continue," he said.