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Pedestrian in Surrey crosswalk crash lobbied city hall to install it

Judge finds City of Surrey not liable for negligence
A Surrey mother and her family were involved in a pedestrian crash at this crosswalk on 76 Avenue near 147A Street in Newton three months after she successfully lobbied the City of Surrey to install it. (Photo: Tom Zillich)

A Surrey mom and her family were in a pedestrian crosswalk crash three months after she successfully lobbied city hall to install it.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge has found the City of Surrey not liable in a 2016 pedestrian-motor vehicle collision involving a family that was walking in a marked crosswalk in Newton.

Ironically, one of the plaintiffs, the mother, had been instrumental in having the city install it there in the first place.

Justice Karen Douglas heard that Harwinder Gill, her husband Hardeep and their two children ages five and seven at the time had been out for an early evening stroll on Feb. 2, 2016, stopping to play at Chimney Hill elementary school before heading home as it grew dark.

The boy was riding a small green go-cart and his sister had dismounted her pink scooter before entering the crosswalk on 76 Avenue near 147A Street, in their neighbourhood.

In her Jan. 31 reasons for judgment, Douglas referred to the family as the “Gill Pedestrians.” The co-defendant driver, Shangara Siekham, 73, was returning home in his daughter’s 2006 Acura sedan from a local gurdwara with his two grandchildren, also ages five and seven, who were fighting in the backseat. He looked in the rear-view mirror as he approached the crosswalk, heard a “bump” and applied his brakes.

“Thereafter, Mr. Siekham remembered hearing a lot of noise, including people shouting and a woman yelling that her son had been killed,” Douglas noted. Siekham pulled over, stopped his car and spoke to police at the scene. He ended up pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention under the Motor Vehicle Act and was fined $1,000 plus a surcharge.

The City of Surrey was also named as a defendant, with the issue being whether it should have installed no-parking signage at the crosswalk, related to two parked cars impairing the sight-lines. But Douglas concluded the collision had occurred “as a result of driver and pedestrian inattention.”

“I therefore find that the trial evidence regarding the sight-lines that might have been available had the parties exercised due care and attention is largely academic,” the judge determined. “By extension, I conclude that the City was not negligent for failing to install no-parking signage at the crosswalk.”

Douglas found Siekham 75 per cent liable for the crash, Harwinder Gill 20 per cent and Hardeep Gill, five per cent liable.

The crosswalk, with white zebra markings painted on 76 Avenue and reflective crosswalk signs, was installed in November 2015 – nearly three months before the crash – thanks in part to the efforts of Mrs. Gill.

“Mrs. Gill was instrumental in the installation of the crosswalk,” the judge noted in her reasons for judgment. “She made an online request of the City in early 2015 for a crosswalk at 147A and 76th Avenue. She agreed that, once the crosswalk was installed, she and her family tended to cross 76th Avenue at that location.”

Before the collision, Douglas added, Mrs. Gill “took the children for walks in the area about four to five times a week.”

The case was heard in Vancouver.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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