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Senior wants safer East Vancouver intersection

The black handwritten print on the white wooden cross reads “Wilma Yerex, 1941-Oct. 8, 2013.

The black handwritten print on the white wooden cross reads “Wilma Yerex, 1941-Oct. 8, 2013.” The sign, which is nailed above a glass lantern on the pole of the children crossing sign on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Earles Street in the Collingwood neighbourhod on the East Side, is the only remaining evidence of a tragic accident at the pedestrian crossing.

According to the Vancouver Police Department, Yerex was struck at 6:30 a.m. on Oct. 7 by a car driven by a 38-year-old man. She was rushed to hospital and died the next day as a result of her injuries. Police say the accident is still being investigated, but neither speed nor alcohol appear to have been factors.

Simple white lines painted across the road mark the crossing in this quiet and established, tree lined residential neighbourhood.

When the Courier visited the crash scene Sunday morning, Carmen Orquiola, was about to cross the intersection on her way home. She lives near the crossing and though she didn’t witness the recent accident, she heard the sirens that followed. When she went out to look that rainy morning, there were several rescue vehicles at the scene and an unfamiliar open umbrella lying near her yard, she said.

“Many have been requesting a stoplight here in this particular section. Children are crossing here on school days, it is very dangerous,” she said.  “Cars don’t stop.”

An online ICBC crash map shows there were 23 accidents at this intersection between 2008 and 2012 and seven of those involved casualties.

Miriam Mattila, 77, lives in the same nearby seniors housing complex as Yerex and uses the pedestrian crossing often.

She said eight years ago another senior was killed trying to cross there so the city put in the crosswalk, but Mattila wants more to be done to make the intersection safe.

“It is still so dangerous there because as the cars are coming north, there are cars parked on the right hand side, and very often a van, and you can’t see someone who is stepping off the sidewalk into the crosswalk because it is blocked,” she said. “And sometimes the cars turn the corner really fast and so it is very dangerous. I mean we all have our stories, we are seniors, and we’ve all got our stories about that crosswalk.”

Mattila and another neighbour were part of the Norquay Village Neighbourhood planning process back in 2010, she said, and they brought up the issue of the intersection. She said there was discussion at the time about a pedestrian crossing light being put in, but it never materialized.

“Something has got to be done and we need the support because when we talk about it they [the city] just pass us off like we are just little old people who complain,” said Mattila.

The Courier contacted the city about the intersection but did not receive a response on the record.