The family and neighbours of a woman who died last week after being struck by a train are calling for changes to the southeast Edmonton intersection where the collision occurred.
Kristina Prado, 34, had been trying to run across the CN tracks at Maple Road at about 7:25 a.m. on Oct. 26 when she was hit by a northbound train, police said. She was taken to the University of Alberta Hospital, where she died the next morning.
Her sister-in-law Elaine Prado said Kristina was a cautious person who did not even use her phone while walking. She can't understand how Kristina ended up in the train's path but believes the collision was an accident.
Prado said the family is shocked and saddened by her death, including her two young sons who Kristina often cared for.
"She loved us unconditionally, especially my two boys," she said.
A registered nurse in the Philippines, Kristina had followed her brother's family to Canada on a student visa to study early learning and child care. She lived with the family in their Maple Crest neighbourhood home.
Kristina became a permanent resident in March and hoped to return to work as a nurse.
On the morning of the collision, Prado said she heard Kristina leave the home to walk to her job at Meadows Early Learning & Child Care.
While driving her kids to school later that morning, Prado encountered traffic.
She learned about the train collision when she called the school to report the delay but it wasn't until her sister-in-law's employer called to ask why Kristina had not shown up to work that Prado feared the worst.
When she called her sister-in-law's phone, a police officer answered.
Later in the hospital, while Kristina was unconscious, Prado made video calls to family in the Philippines.
During the last call before she died, family members were hopeful because they saw a single teardrop in her eye.
"We said, 'Fight for your life, we are here waiting for you,'" Prado recalled.
Prado said Kristina was looking forward to a visit to the U.S. in December and a long-awaited trip to her home country next year. Including travel restrictions from the pandemic, she had not seen her family there for more than six years.
After holding a Catholic funeral mass in Edmonton, the family plans to repatriate her remains to the Philippines. A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign has raised about $7,000 toward expenses.
Calls for crossing changes
Prado is calling for pedestrian barriers to be installed where the CN Rail line crosses Maple Road. When trains pass, gates block the road, but not the sidewalk.
Jasvir Deol, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Meadows, said in the Legislature last week that hundreds of constituents have contacted his office with concerns about the neighbourhood's main access point.
He said he has written to the provincial infrastructure minister and Edmonton's city council and will keep advocating for "uninterrupted safe access."
Darryl Mullen, the city's acting director of traffic operations, said upgrades will be made to Maple's second access route as the communities of Maple, Aster and Tamarack are developed. Timing will depend on the pace of development.
He said CN Rail would be responsible for changes to the Maple Road rail crossing.
In a statement, CN said it believes crossing safety is a shared responsibility involving railroads, Transport Canada, provinces, road authorities and the public.
"The rail crossing on Maple Road is already equipped with a full-warning system (arms, lights and bells) but CN welcomes the opportunity to work with our partners to further reduce risk and increase safety at this crossing by discussing any potential improvement," the statement said.