Family of Madeleine Petrielli, 15, killed in fatal Mississauga collision sues city, driver $4M
Amara McLaughlin, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:07PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:11PM EDT
The family of a 15-year-old girl who was killed in a traffic accident while crossing a Mississauga street in December is suing the city for $4 million, alleging the intersection had inadequate lighting on the night their daughter died.
Madeleine Petrielli was walking home with her boyfriend near Glen Erin Drive and Britannia Road shortly after 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 when she was fatally struck.
Though paramedics rushed her to hospital in critical condition, she later succumbed to her injuries.
“It’s horrible. My life is completely different,” said Petrielli’s mother, Nicole Burnat. “My daughter is not walking through the door again, she’s not here to play with her little brother. I don’t get to see what she’ll become.”
Police said that Petrielli was jaywalking and that the driver’s speed was not a factor. The investigation into her death is ongoing and no charges have been laid.
While there were “contradicting stories” about whether Petrielli and her boyfriend were crossing the road on an amber or red light, the family has now acknowledged that she was jaywalking that night.
“Madeleine has had consequences for her choices and she has been held accountable in the worst way,” Burnat told CP24 on Wednesday.
'Death could have been prevented'
But the family also believes there were other factors at play.
They conceded that Britannia Road wasn’t well lit at the time of the accident, saying that five of the street lights at the intersection were out that night and that it was the “responsibility” of the city and power company to ensure they were working and with enough light to safely illuminate the intersection.
The family is also suing Peel Region, Enersource, Alectra Power and the driver of the SUV that struck Petrielli.
“This is an unacceptable situation and Maddy paid with her life," the family's lawyer Michael Smitiuch told reporters at a news conference held Wednesday morning. "The hope is that [the lawsuit] can make a difference, that the city wakes up and they can meet the minimum standards."
The family commissioned an engineering report which showed that the intersection was lit to less than a third of the city’s own minimum safety standards, Smitiuch explained.
"We believe her tragic death could have been prevented," he said. "If the lighting had been better ... this accident wouldn't have happened."
The family claims the city failed to give them any information on why the lights were not working.
“This is my way to get answers,” Burnat told CP24 from her home on Wednesday. “I’ve tried to contact the city regarding the lights, I haven’t received any response.”
'I want the others involved to be held accountable'
Since Madeleine’s death, the speed limit on Britannia Road has been lowered from 70 km/hr to 60 km/hr.
The family believes the change was a direct reaction to their daughter’s untimely death.
“I believe there is shared responsibility and Madeline suffered the most extreme consequences with her life. I want the others involved to be held accountable,” Burnat added.
In an email to CP24, a spokesperson said the City of Mississauga’s legal team is reviewing the lawsuit before issuing a public response.
"We only received a courtesy copy of the claim this morning and are in the process of reviewing the allegations made against the city," Carley Smith DeBenedictis said in the email. "Please allow for some time for the City to investigate and assess the allegations before we respond to it."
Driver 'so stressed out,' son says
The driver, who remained at the scene of the crash and cooperated with the police investigation, has also been named in the lawsuit. The driver’s son told a CP24 reporter Wednesday that their family is in shock since receiving the statement of claim today.
He said his father has been “so stressed out” because of the accident that he suffered a heart attack following the incident and is not doing well. The driver has not been charged in this case.
Teen was 76th pedestrian killed on Toronto roads in 2016
In the wake of Madeleine’s death, Toronto Mayor John Tory called an emergency meeting with the chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee Coun. Jaye Robinson, Toronto police and the city’s transportation services department to fast track efforts to prevent pedestrian-related fatalities and collisions.
Petrielli was the 76th pedestrian killed on Toronto roads in 2016.
Tory vowed to speed up work on pedestrian safety corridors, launch a public education campaign and push the provincial government on implementing traffic cameras.
Burnat said she’ll never forget the phone call from the hospital.
“They said that police would pick me up but they wouldn’t tell me what it was. So I waited for the police. They did not show up and finally I got into my car twenty minutes later and drove to the hospital,” Burnat said of that December night.
“I couldn’t get there because the roads were blocked and I instantly knew something horrible had happened… and I was right.”