Swansea school sets up memorial for teacher killed Friday

Staff and students at Swansea Public School are mourning the death of Tom Samson, a popular Grade 2 teacher who died in a collision involving his bicycle and two vehicles last Friday.
Tom Samson, a Grade 2 teacher at Swansea Public School, was killed Friday when the bike he was riding was struck by two vans. (Swansea Public School)

Staff and students at Swansea Public School have erected a memorial for Tom Samson, a Grade 2 teacher who was killed Friday when the bike he was riding was struck by two vans near Lansdowne Avenue and Davenport Road.

Police say while one of the vans remained at the scene, another fled. Police eventually found the second van and have charged the driver Miguel Oliveira, 22, with failing to stop at the scene of an accident causing death — which could lead to a maximum sentence of life in prison, if he is convicted.

Oliveira turned himself in on Saturday and appeared in court on Monday.

According to the Oliveira's lawyer, Calvin Barry, he was granted bail today.

"He has no prior convictions and no outstanding charges," said Barry.

Witnesses told CBC News that Samson may have been crossing at a red light.

Oliveira is due to return to court in January.

'Tremendous impact on the school'

Karen Ridley, the principal at Swansea Public School, said Samson was well-liked by both staff and his students.

Samson shared his love of basketball, chess and music with the students.

"He was funny. He cared about the kids. He had great, great stuff going on in his classroom," Ridley told CBC News.

"The mood is pretty somber. We just got the kids into Mr. Samson’s class and we have some social workers in there."

Samson, a 35-year-old father of two young children, "made a tremendous impact on the school community during his eight years at Swansea Public School" reads a memorial posted on the school's website.

Students and parents shaken

Robin Pilkey, the co-chair of the Swansea Parent Council, said Samson’s death has also shaken parents whose children attend the school.

"Parents are really disturbed, maybe more so than many of the children at this point because I think they have a better understanding of what this means," she said Sunday.

"A lot of kids, it's their first instance with death of somebody they know and since it's so senseless kids don't get that."

There will be a memorial for Samson on Tuesday at the Artscape Wychwood Barns at 76 Wychwood Ave., near St. Clair Avenue West and Christie Street.

The one-hour visitation for family and friends begins at noon followed by a memorial that is open to the public starting at 1 p.m.

With a report from the CBC's Natalie Kalata, Carolyn Dunn and Lucy Lopez