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Toronto teenager killed on first day of school was a ‘90-per-cent student’

Violet Liang, 14, died across from Elia Middle School in Toronto’s northwest after being hit by a large truck.

Courtesy of CTV Toronto

A teenage girl was killed in a collision outside a Toronto school as she walked to her first day of classes on Tuesday.

Violet Liang, 14, died across from Elia Middle School in the city's northwest after being hit by a large truck. She was enrolled at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute – a school that has previously seen tragedy, with the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Manners in 2007. Violet lived just a short walk away, and would have turned 15 on Wednesday.

"We are talking about a student that really enriched this building, a fantastic student that did very well in our classes," said Monday Gala, principal of C.W. Jefferys.

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Violet was entering Grade 10 in C.W. Jefferys's math, science and technology enrichment program after completing Grade 9 there and was "a 90-per-cent student," Mr. Gala said. When asked about the timing of the collision – more than an hour before school started – he said Violet may have been planning to arrive at school early.

At the teen's house a few blocks away, a woman who answered the phone asked for privacy. "The family's grieving right now," she said.

Mr. Gala said grief counsellors and other board staff were at C.W. Jefferys to provide emotional support to students and staff.

Donna Quan, acting director of the Toronto District School Board, noted that the girl's death hit especially hard at C.W. Jefferys, referring to the fatal shooting of Mr. Manners in a school stairwell.

"This is not a good time and a good way to start our school year," she told reporters. "It's a sad time but our thoughts will be with the family and we will offer the supports required."

The collision is a "really unfortunate reminder" about the importance of road safety, said Education Minister Liz Sandals.

"We do really need to be careful," she said. "This is back to school safety time and no matter what sort of a vehicle you're driving, we all as adults need to remember that kids are really enthusiastic at this time of the year and we as the adults need to be the ones that are watching for the little kids."

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Toronto Police are asking anyone with information about the collision to come forward.

Police said the collision happened around 7:50 a.m. as a 41-year-old male driver was turning a 2012 Mack truck onto Lamberton Boulevard, near Keele Street and Finch Avenue West. Violet was struck as she was crossing the street and was pronounced dead on the scene.

Constable Clint Stibbe of Toronto Police said the driver of the truck, which transports dumpsters, remained in the area and is co-operating with police. He said it is too soon to say whether charges will be laid.

A representative of Sky Star, the disposal and demolition company whose logo is on the truck, said he couldn't comment and hung up the phone.

With a report from Stephanie Chambers

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