Some with anger, some with sadness, many with both — Leasiders swarmed over the corners of Millwood Road and McRae Drive on July 17 in memory of Georgia Walsh, who had been killed by a vehicle there 24 hours earlier.
“I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I had to do something,” said McRae resident Roger Cattell, who organized the vigil for the seven-year-old girl.
About 300 area residents, plus about 40 media, spilled onto the street around the makeshift memorial to the girl, and observed a minute’s silence at 4 p.m., the hour she had been struck the previous day. Some openly wept while others appeared grim.
Children sat together on the sidewalk in front of the memorial of flowers, messages and teddy bears, while their parents and others stood on the four corners of the intersection, discussing the tragedy.
This is what he had hoped would happen, Cattell said: a community dialogue about dangerous traffic in the area, especially along Millwood.
“Back in April I sent an email to my councillor about the crazy traffic and then I did nothing,” Cattell said. “So when this happened, I felt I had to do something.”
He and two other fathers sent out emails to their friends and through word of mouth people found out about the vigil.
Not everyone who came knew Georgia but parents said they were there because they felt it could have happened to their own children.
“It’s definitely scary when it happens near your house,” said Sandra Mauro, who was there with her two children. “It’s a busy corner with the tennis courts, playground and park.”
She was glad to see so many families come to the vigil.
“To me this is very representative of what Leaside is all about,” she said, pointing to the kids on the sidewalk.
Cattell said he had warned his own three children not to cross Millwood at the busiest intersections, especially at what he called the most dangerous junction, Millwood and Hanna roads, just one block west of McRae.
Other people pointed to cars speeding down McRae, which cuts across Leaside on an angle from the northeast to the southwest end of the community.
“The problem is the streets are treated as thoroughfares for through traffic, instead of as residential streets,” Cattell said.
His wife, Cary Cattell, said there have been many close calls on Millwood before this fatal incident. “Lots of cars don’t stop speeding through,” she said.
Roger Cattell said he wasn’t sure what should be done next to fix the traffic problems, but he wasn’t going to wait for political action. Perhaps, he suggested, residents should take matters into their own hands by parking their cars on the streets to force drivers to slow down on the way through Leaside.
Police reported Georgia had been struck in the intersection on July 16 by a minivan travelling south on McRae and turning right onto Millwood.
No charges have been laid yet, as the incident is being investigated.
Georgia was the daughter of John Walsh, president of the Conservative Party, who lives in the Leaside area with his wife and three other children.
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