A Cedar Secondary School student described as a smiling, happy kid died Monday evening when he was hit by a flatbed pickup truck while out longboarding.
The incident happened at about 6 p.m. on MacMillan Road near the high school.
Police said the youth was longboarding in the southbound lane when he was struck by the northbound truck, driven by a 28-year-old man.
The victim, Ryan Thomas Wallace-Tarry, 17, was treated at the scene by paramedics and North Cedar Volunteer Fire Department before he was rushed to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The section of MacMillan Road where the incident occurred was closed while RCMP collision analysts investigated the scene.
Police said the driver of the pickup truck was cooperating and that speed and alcohol did not appear to have contributed to the accident, but noted that the area was dimly lit and Wallace-Tarry was wearing dark clothing.
“Basically the evidence is pointing toward just a tragic accident and with that in mind it’ll probably be turned over to the B.C. Coroner’s Service for investigation,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman.
Students and staff at the high school set up a memorial in one of the school’s classrooms and placed flowers and small items that included head phones and beaded bracelets and necklaces on a utility pole near the accident scene.
Chad Lintott, school principal, said the students and staff made up a small community who knew Wallace-Tarry, in some cases from as early as kindergarten, and were taking the news hard.
Counsellors from the school district were brought to provide support for students and staff.
“We’re telling students to be honest with themselves and to seek support when they think they need it,” Lintott said. “To use one another as support, to seek help when necessary, but not be shy about that and be OK with their emotions.”
Evidence that Lintott was himself still coming to grips with Wallace-Tarry’s death became apparent when spoke about his student in past and present tense.
“No doubt there’s a great sense of loss and tragedy today,” Lintott said. “He was a very warm, very engaging kid. Always smiling. Always happy. He’s really set a goal for himself. He’s on his path to graduation now, which we’re very proud of, but just a lot of friends – as you can see from the reaction here today from the students and the families – very well respected. The family’s very well respected. The community is so tight and the entire community knows that family and they all have a great respect for him and that family. A super kid, absolutely.”
“It’s a tragic reminder that in areas where there’s poor visibility the onus is upon the youth to wear some reflective clothing and bear in mind that they’re sharing the road with vehicles,” O’Brien said. “In Cedar there are no sidewalks and we totally understand that there are no bylaws governing that. Also longboarders are treated as pedestrians, so they’re going against traffic. Tragically this youth was in a very dimly lit area with non-reflective clothing and the end result was the loss of a young life.”