Edmonton students rally for pedestrian safety after classmates struck by bus

Two weeks after two of their classmates were struck by a school bus, students at a west Edmonton school staged a traffic safety demonstration on Friday.

About 100 students, parents and teachers from the K- 9 Bessie Nichols School marched through the Hamptons neighbourhood, chanting and carrying signs.

"This issue is not unique to Bessie Nichols but it has been highlighted by the fact that we had students that were harmed," school principal Judith Boyle told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It worried all of us, it scared all of us but it also united us ... We wanted to channel that energy into something positive."

On the afternoon of March 8, two 13-year-old girls were hit by a westbound school bus near Hemingway Road at 206th Street.

One of the girls, Devony Kasawski, remains in Stollery Children's Hospital recovering from a fractured skull, a brain injury, a broken jaw and a shattered pelvis.

The second teen, who has not been identified, was transported to hospital in stable condition.

None of the students on the bus nor the 44-year-old male driver were injured. Edmonton police said charges are pending against the driver.

Days before Devony and her friend were struck by the school bus, a 12-year-old boy was hit by an SUV on the same road in the Hamptons neighbourhood. The boy was a student at Bessie Nichols, Boyle said.

'We are a family' 

Devony's younger sister Talia Kasawski, 11, helped organize Friday's demonstration. She said she no longer feels safe walking to school and wants to prevent anyone else from getting hurt.

Talia said students want the speed limit in the nearly one-kilometre stretch between Bessie Nichols and another school, Sister Annata Brockman, reduced from from 50 km/h to 30 km/h.

"We're hoping that they can put in more speed bumps, more crosswalks and take the speed limit down," she said. "I was so happy that so many people walked with us.

 "It was really nice to see how many people were there and supported the idea." 

David Bajer/CBC

Boyle said Grade 6 students who are currently studying democracy in their social studies class decided to stage the demonstration.

"They're reading about the responsibilities of citizens and they have come up with a way to take a stand, mobilize people and raise awareness about an issue in their community," she said.

"We are a family, we are a neighbourhood school. And when something happens to someone in your family, you are impacted by that.

"It was an opportunity for us to stand together and raise awareness."

David Bajer/CBC