Jessica Renee Salickram was on her way home after ending a shift at the Eaton Centre on January 7, 2018. She stepped off the bus at her stop, but her stop was 300 metres from the closest signalized intersection. Salickram decied that with the snow piling up on either side of the roadway, she would cross the street mid-block rather than brave the cold and walk on the unprotected shoulder of the rod.
The driver of a minivan struck her moments before she finished crossing the street. Salickram was just twenty-one years old when she died.
No charges were laid in relation to the accident – the driver who hit Salickram claimed that he did not see her on the road and neither the city nor the TTC took responsibility for the conditions that may have contributed.
Salickram’s mother stated,
“The city needs to do something to make it more accessible for pedestrians, and not allow drivers off the hook,” she says. “If you get behind the wheel of a car, you’ve got a weapon in your hands.”
Navigating the legal system in the wake of pedestrian deaths and serious injuries, adds a layer of complexitiy to families’ already raw grief. In Canada, it’s not mandatory for drivers to be in the room for the hearings. Drivers who hit—or even kill—pedestrians typically face charges under provincial traffic acts, rather than the Criminal Code.
McLeish Orlando Partner, Patrick Brown, says that drivers might have minimal involvement in the civil proceedings beyond answering a few questions. They may never even see or speak to a victim’s family. This means that civil cases, too, can fail to offer closer.