Father vows to make Waterdown roads safer
Shakeel Hanif lost daughter in traffic fatality
Before his daughter’s death, Shakeel Hanif says the traffic on his Waterdown street had become so bad, crossing it was like playing Russian roulette.
“My daughter lost, my family lost,” he said.
On May 15, Jasmin Hanif, a 10-yearold “chatterbox,” happy kid, Ticat fan and “angel” to her family, died after being struck while crossing Evans Road in front of her home.
Now her family and neighbours are vowing to fight for safety changes they believe should have been made before the tragedy. Shakeel said he’s planning to establish a foundation in his daughter’s memory that will work toward better road safety first in Waterdown and then across Canada.
“What we are going through is the worst thing that any family can go through … so I’m here to protect kids
and family from what we’re going through.”
Shakeel said he “will do whatever it takes” to improve road safety so that Jasmin “is not going to die in vain.”
On the night Jasmin died, the northbound lanes of Evans Road were backed up even more than usual with motorists avoiding a closure on Highway 403.
Shakeel said Jasmin was supposed to go with her mom to get an outfit for his cousin’s wedding but instead asked to stayed home.
Jasmin noticed the traffic backup and asked her dad if she could give water to drivers. He said no, it was too busy, but she was later told she could play across the road if her 13year-old brother crossed with her.
Eager to play, she ran ahead and when a northbound driver waved her through, she stepped into the road, where she was struck by a southbound vehicle.
Shakeel heard the impact from the kitchen and then heard his son say, “Jasmin.” When he ran out, he found his unconscious daughter lying about 25 feet from the vehicle that hit her.
Evans, in particular, is a traffic problem because it sits on the edge of Waterdown and often becomes a thoroughfare for drivers speeding between Dundas Street and Parkside Drive.
Evans was rural, but is now surrounded by residential development. The narrow, two-lane road, which has a posted speed limit of 50 km/h, has no sidewalks and is lined with ditches.
Travelling through Waterdown is not part of the EDR (emergency detour route). Drivers are supposed to take Highway 6, across Highway 5 and back down to Highway 52.
However, Martin White, the city’s manager of traffic operations and engineering, said the city can’t control where people drive.
“The problem with that is once (the highway) closes, it’s just a giant cluster from Burlington to Brantford,” White said.
A Waterdown bypass is under construction nearby, but Coun. Judi Partridge says she’s committed to finding other ways to calm traffic. Partridge met with traffic management Thursday afternoon and is forming a traffic-calming working group.
White said the city has no specific plans for the area yet, but is open to hearing from Partridge and the community.
But Hanif said action should have already been taken, such as immediately setting up speed radar. He wants speed bumps, signs and other measures to make drivers avoid that road.
Neighbour Shannon Pellicciotta said she’s not backing down from the fight to make the street safer, either. Before Jasmin’s death, she called police a number of times about speeders, aggressive drivers and when her dog was struck in a hit and run.
“As long as nothing is being changed, we’re all in danger,” she said, adding that her family is not only frustrated, but now utterly heartbroken.
The community has rallied around the Hanif family, bringing flowers, kind words, raising money and organizing memorials.
Hanif said now he wants to make it safer for everyone.
“Our family is the people of Waterdown.”
Signs along Evans Road in Waterdown urge drivers to slow down after Jasmin Hanif was struck and killed there.
Hanif’s daughter, Jasmin, was killed in front of their home. A memorial there is dedicated to the 10-year-old.
Jasmin Hanif, far left, wanted to give water to drivers who were backed up in traffic. Her dad told her no.