Residents in the Toronto neighbourhood where Georgia Walsh was struck and killed by a car held a vigil for the seven-year-old Thursday and vowed to take action to slow down traffic in their area.
Georgia was the daughter of Conservative Party president John Walsh. Condolences poured in from around the country, including from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. She died after a crash, which is still under investigation, at the intersection of McRae Drive and Millwood Road, in a relatively residential part of Toronto’s Leaside neighbourhood at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Just after 4 p.m. Thursday, residents gathered at the corner of the intersection to take part in a moment of silence. More than 120 people, including parents with their young children, attended the vigil and some placed flowers and stuffed animals in front of a memorial to Georgia.
Mr. Walsh, his wife Jillian and their children released a statement asking for privacy after the collision.
“John, Jillian, Duncan, Liam and Finn are saddened to inform you that their beautiful daughter and wonderful sister Georgia has passed. Taken from them suddenly in an accident today, the family asks that they be given their space and privacy to come to terms with this incredible loss. Your prayers are appreciated.”
The statement asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Toronto’s SickKids Hospital. “The Walsh family is thankful for your thoughts and prayers for Georgia,” the statement said.
Mr. Harper called the death an “unimaginable tragedy” in a written statement Thursday. “The Prime Minister, Mrs. Harper and the entire Conservative family are deeply saddened by this unimaginable tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Walsh family,” the statement, from Mr. Harper’s spokesman, said.
Tory MPs and supporters of opposition parties all expressed condolences to the Walsh family Thursday.
Mr. Walsh, a lawyer with deep roots in conservative politics, has served as party president since 2008.
Mr. Cattell said the number of cars in the area has increased since he moved in. Construction for the Eglinton Crosstown light-rail transit line has reduced the street down to two lanes and has drivers looking for side routes, adding to traffic from commercial and big-box developments nearby.
“You’re going to see in the next couple of weeks signs go up on residents’ lawns asking [drivers] to slow down,” said Roger Cattell, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 10 years with his three children. “You’re going to see a lot more people parking on the street to restrict the flow of traffic.”
Margaret Randall, who has lived in the community for 20 years, said that she sent an e-mail to Ward 26 councillor John Parker yesterday after she nearly got “wiped out” at the same intersection where Georgia was struck.
Toronto police said a 1998 Toyota Sienna was southbound on McRae Drive, and turned right onto Millwood Road, heading west, when the crash took place. Among the things police are sorting out is whether the child was in the intersection.
Toronto Police Constable Clint Stibbe, of the traffic services unit, said Thursday that it’s too soon to say whether charges will be laid. The driver is co-operating, Constable Stibbe said.
The intersection has traffic lights, but is “fairly heavily travelled,” Constable Stibbe said. On the northeast side of the corner is a park with a baseball diamond, tennis courts and playground as well as a library. On Thursday at noon, the area was busy with traffic, elderly residents and a few children walking by themselves in small groups.