The number 22 has a new significance for Cuma Caya, who lives in Montreal’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood.
That figure isn’t just the age of his daughter Dilan Caya. It also represents the day she died, June 22nd, as well as where she passed away — 22nd Avenue.
“How did she die?” he asked rhetorically, explaining that he still doesn’t fully understand why.
Dilan was struck by a truck as she was crossing 22nd Avenue at the intersection with Bélair Street in Saint-Michel.
“The truck turned here,” he explained, pointing to the crosswalk at the intersection, “and struck her on the 5th yellow line.”
So far the driver is facing no charges and Caya says he can’t get answers from police. Every day since the accident the father has kept vigil at the intersection.
“Usually I’m here alone but sometimes with my son,” he told Global News. “Yesterday I was here all day until 11 at night.”
People who live in the area sympathize with him, and those like Sofiane Mezghiche, whose home is next to the intersection, regularly stop by to offer support
“He stays all day here, sometimes crying, screaming,” he pointed out. “He needs closure. He hasn’t been able to grieve.”
Mezghiche said people have been warning about the intersection for a long time and that he’s spoken to a borough representative twice about it.
“I told him it’s very dangerous and I know in the future there’s going to be an accident here, and this is what happened,” he said.
According to him, since the closure of Pie IX Boulevard north for construction, one street east of 22nd Avenue, large trucks now use 22nd.
There are no stop signs at the crossing with Bélair but since the accident, authorities installed a temporary stop sign at 21st Avenue, a few metres away. Mezghiche isn’t sure what can be done to make the intersection safer but stresses that it can’t remain like this.
In a statement, the borough of Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc-Extension has expressed its condolences to the Caya family and acknowledged that residents have long pointed to road safety problems in the area. They include lack of visibility due to parked vehicles, the increase in traffic since the start of work on the Pie-IX pedestrian tunnel and the desire for stop signs.
The borough point to more than 20 safety improvements carried out in the Bélair Street sector over the years, including a temporary stop sign at 21st Avenue and Bélair. However the statement did not say what will be done at the intersection with 22nd Avenue.
A Montreal police spokesperson was unable to comment on the accident, saying that the person in charge of the investigation is away for the next few days.
Caya vows to continue his vigil until he gets the answers he wants.