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Community grieving after London, Ont., crash that killed eight-year-old girl

·3 min read

Girl Guides of Canada and a local school board say their communities are grieving after a car crash killed an eight-year-old girl and injured nine other pedestrians in London, Ont., this week.

Girl Guides has said some of the pedestrians injured in the crash were members of the organization, and the Thames Valley District School Board has said the eight-year-old who died and three of those hurt were its students.

The board says it's sent members of its "traumatic events response team" to schools that were directly affected by Tuesday's collision, and an email is going out to all parents who have kids at the board offering support.

It declined to identify any of those involved in the crash, citing privacy concerns.

The CEO of Girl Guides of Canada, meanwhile, says the crash is a "terribly sad and difficult moment" for the organization and its members.

"The pain has been felt by Girl Guides in London and in the hundreds of communities across Canada where Guiding is active," Jill Zelmanovits said in a written statement on Thursday.

"As Girl Guides, we always do our best to help others, to lend a hand whenever we can," she said. "We have been truly overwhelmed by the support and care our members have received from the community in London and across Canada."

London police have turned the investigation over to the traffic unit and spokesperson Const. Sandasha Bough said it could take weeks to complete the probe.

Police have said 10 pedestrians aged six to 40 were struck Tuesday evening after a vehicle mounted the curb and collided with a street lamp and a small tree.

One adult and five children remained in hospital the next day, with their conditions listed as fair to good.

Investigators have said there is no indication the incident was deliberate.

No charges have been laid at this time, and police have said the driver — a 76-year-old woman — was not among those taken to hospital.

The circumstances are different, but the Thames Valley District School Board said the crash is particularly hard to stomach after a Muslim family out for an evening stroll was run down earlier this year in what police called a deliberate act. Four members of that family died.

"Although police have said there is nothing to indicate this was an intentional act, this tragic incident comes at a time when many of us are still dealing with the events of June 2021, when members of our community were targeted by a hate crime," said Mark Fisher, director of education.

In that case, police described the collision as hate-motivated.

Nathaniel Veltman, 20, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder in what prosecutors allege was an act of terrorism. His next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 15.

The June 6 incident killed Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal. The couple's nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously hurt.

- with files from Paola Loriggio.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2021.

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press

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