The family of an 18-year-old man who was struck by a vehicle while crossing the road with his girlfriend is calling for change.
On Sunday (May 31) Sean Lode was in a marked crosswalk at the intersection of First Avenue and Ospika Boulevard when he was hit.
The Lode family has now started a petition to get some form of controlled traffic light installed at the Prince George intersection.
“This is our family trying to do something so that no other family, especially from this area, will have to go through the same thing,” says Sean’s brother, Paul Lode.
Witnesses say that Sean was hit so severely that he somersaulted through the air. He is now in hospital recovering from a life-threatening brain injury.
“Pedestrians on crosswalks shouldn’t be turned into projectiles. That’s just the bottom line,” says Paul.
The family says the intersection in question is a recipe for disaster because it not only has poor visibility and design, but it’s also located between a number of apartment buildings populated with young families and Quinson Elementary School.
“You spend your whole life teaching your kids to walk on the sidewalk and to do the crosswalk but it still didn’t work,” says Sean’s mom Stephanie.
“The kids could have jaywalked but they took the time and he still got hit at the pedestrian crosswalk, which is supposed to make you think you’re going to be safe.”
The family claims there are visibility issues caused by a white fence and vehicles parked along Ospika Boulevard at the Park Village Apartments, which make it difficult to see pedestrians waiting to cross in the triangle meridian.
There’s also a turning lane onto First Avenue from Ospika Boulevard which causes further visibility issues for pedestrians and oncoming traffic.
“Here is an 18-year-old who’s life has just put on hold because of something that was out of his hands,” says Stephanie, adding that if there had been some kind of walk-light in the intersection, her son may not have been hit.
The 22-year-old woman who was driving the mid-sized vehicle that hit Sean remained on scene and cooperated with police, who said in an earlier release they don’t believe alcohol was a factor.
“It’s traumatizing for everyone involved. I couldn’t imagine being a person who hit another person,” says Sean’s sister Mavra.
“She watched someone fly and land on the cement in front of her when she realized she hit something,” adds Stephanie. “She has to deal with that and so does Sean.”
The family says they want to see some kind of immediate action to address the intersection.
Changes have occurred at other dangerous intersections in Prince George. In 2019, new traffic signals were installed at Ospika Boulevard and 22nd Avenue which was part of an ongoing effort to improve traffic safety in the city.
The Ministry of Transportation, the College of New Caledonia and the City of Prince George also approved updates to Highway 97 and 22nd Avenue to improve pedestrian safety after a college student was killed in 2018 crossing the highway.
“His life could have been extinguished because someone was not paying attention, because the intersection is not clearly laid out,” says Stephanie. “The kids did everything right. They looked both ways and it still ended in tragedy.”
Within hours of posting today (June 1), the petition has gained over 300 signatures, and many people have begun commenting online about their experiences at the intersection.
“It needs to change before someone passes away,” says Stephanie.
“Right now we have our son, and we are waiting but he has got a long road of recovery that isn’t necessary if there was a proper light in place.”
You can find the petition on change.org.