Fa­ther vows to make Wa­ter­down roads safer

Sha­keel Hanif lost daugh­ter in traf­fic fa­tal­ity

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - NICOLE O’REILLY

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.

JOHN RENNISON, THE HAMIL­TON SPEC­TA­TOR

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.

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