'Really devastating': Victim in Yonge and Eglinton cement truck crash identified

The woman who was struck and killed by a cement truck on Tuesday morning in midtown Toronto has been identified as 54-year-old Evangeline Lauroza.

A small vigil took place Wednesday night near where she was killed. Lauroza died while trying to cross Erskine Avenue, near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue. 

Friends and community members at the vigil described Lauroza as happy, straightforward and a good leader.

"It is really devastating. We don't want to believe it," said Vida Cruz, elder secretary of the Precious Blood of Christ prayer community, of which Lauroza was a member.

"We can't really accept it."

Friends say Lauroza moved to Toronto from the Philippines with her sister. She was not married and had no children.

Instead, the church community was her family, Cruz said. "And she's our family," she said. 

"We will remember her as a very dedicated volunteer at the church. She is a very good lead guitarist, as the leader of the instrumentalists. Her memories will really stay with us because she is a very happy person."

'You name it, they've endured it'

In the wake of the crash, three councillors are now calling on the city to improve pedestrian safety immediately around all major construction sites.

Councillors Mike Colle, Jaye Robinson and Josh Matlow attended the vigil. Colle is asking for a pause in development in the neighbourhood until roads in the area are made safe for pedestrians.

Colle said at a news conference earlier in the day that construction in the area is amounting to a "non-stop invasion."

"The people in this area of the city have endured so much. Twenty-four seven, non-stop noise, construction, traffic, road rage — you name it, they've endured it," he said. 

"This is something that we have to basically deal with and deal with it firmly."

Submitted by Josie Malijan

Robinson echoed that sentiment. She said this incident has "shaken the community to the core, and told reporters that a sign marked "no trucks" is clearly marked on the street onto which the truck was turning Tuesday morning.

"This community is fed up," she said.

Traffic safety issues

Colle said in a news release that council must address the "incredible growing number of traffic safety issues" that have arisen from condo development in general and the building of the Eglinton Crosstown in particular.

Colle is asking council to adopt the following five measures:

  • Develop a traffic and pedestrian safety plan for major construction sites before city development approvals.
  • Immediately provide "safe city" driving training for all heavy construction truck drivers.
  • Hire full-time pedestrian crossing guards on the site of at all major construction projects and have those guards paid for by developers.
  • Install full-time crossing personnel at all intersections on Yonge Street, from Castlefield Avenue to the Kay Gardiner Beltline, and have that staff paid for by developers.
  • Immediately Implement a construction traffic safety management plan for the Yonge-Eglinton area.

Roger Tickner is the president of Tickner and Associates, a professional safety company that has been in the construction safety business for 38 years in Toronto. He said these recommendations are largely positive.

"I think that in general, they're taking some interesting steps, and I think they're warranted. I think any time you have the opportunity to raise safety awareness and elevate safety standards, that's a good thing."

Sgt. Ron Gardner, of Toronto police's traffic services, said investigators are continuing to call for witnesses to come forward.

"No charges have been laid at this point, but it's still being investigated," Gardner said.

Gardner said the cement truck driver was taken to hospital to be treated for shock after Lauroza's death.

Residents, business owners and drivers who may have security or dashboard camera footage of the area or collision are urged to call police.