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Safer street crossing, RCMP changes suggested in wake of Surrey teen's death

Ashley Christine Guiboche was struck and killed by an RCMP cruiser when she was walking across King George Boulevard in North Surrey in 2011. -
Ashley Christine Guiboche was struck and killed by an RCMP cruiser when she was walking across King George Boulevard in North Surrey in 2011.
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A coroner's inquest into the death of a Surrey teen who was struck and killed by a a police vehicle in North Surrey two years ago concluded Thursday with five recommendations for the RCMP and one for the City of Surrey, ICBC and TransLink.

Ashley Christine Guiboche, 18, was killed Jan. 31, 2011 when she was walking across King George Boulevard near 98 Avenue and was hit by an RCMP cruiser. The driver, Const. Albert Luk, was speeding without his siren or emergency lights activated, responding to a report of a stolen vehicle.

The jury at a coroner's inquest may not make any findings of legal responsibility but can make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.

The first of the six recommendations last week was that the city, ICBC and TransLink work together to find a solution to the "serious jaywalking problem" along King George Boulevard between 98 and 100 Avenues. It's suggested that either an overhead walkway be built over the road stretch, or that a pedestrian-activated crosswalk at 98B Avenue be installed.

"This needs to be a priority," said the jury.

The city says it is working on the recommendation.

Vincent Lalonde, Surrey's general manager of engineering, said overpasses tend to be safer, because they are completely separated from the traffic. That said, he added that pedestrians are less likely to use them, so the lighted crossing will be the most effective safety measure. Lalonde anticipates the crossing will be up in the next few months.

All of the other jury recommendations were aimed at RCMP training, procedures and equipment.

Additional and more frequent instruction as to when to activate lights and sirens was suggested, as was an increase in the length of time – from three months to one year – that senior officers ride along with new recruits.

The RCMP, said the jury, should also consider a hands-free, verbal system for officers to communicate with while driving, or at least have a "heads up" screen on the dashboard to transmit messages from dispatch.

Equipping police vehicles with cameras that automatically start recording when the lights or siren are activated was also recommended.

Surrey RCMP say they're starting to initiate some of the recommendations coming out of the inquest.

Cpl. Bert Paquet said morning briefings are already punctuated with reminders to Mounties to flip on their lights and sirens when they are exceeding the rules of the road. Paquet said a much more formalized training format will be undertaken in time.

The RCMP is examining the other proposals, some of which will be addressed locally, while others will be tackled regionally.

- with Kevin Diakiw

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