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Heartbroken family files lawsuit over teenage girl's death on Mississauga street
April 5, 2017
Chris Doucette

A heartbroken mom believes her 15-year-old daughter would not have been killed by an SUV late last year if the intersection where she was run down had been better lit.

So to honour the memory of her “angel,” and perhaps spare others from a similar fate, Nicole Burnat and her family launched a $4-million civil suit against the City of Mississauga, the Region of Peel, the SUV driver, the vehicle’s co-owner and two companies responsible for ensuring the street lights were in working order.

“My life has changed forever. I don’t have my little girl,” Burnat said Wednesday, tears streaming down her face as she sat in her home 450 metres from where her only daughter, Madeleine “Maddie” Petrielli, was killed.

“She was only 15 years old. She had so much life ahead of her,” the distraught mother added.

Peel Regional Police investigators determined Petrielli and her boyfriend were walking across Britannia Rd. W., just east of Glen Erin Dr. — against the traffic light and outside the marked crossing — just before 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2016, when tragedy struck.

The boyfriend made it safely to the centre median, but Petrielli, who was steps behind him, was hit by an SUV.

Const. Mark Fischer said no charges have been laid against the Honda CRV driver — identified in the lawsuit’s statement of claim.

And while such cases are never officially closed, he said the fatality is no longer actively being investigated.

The family’s lawyer, Michael Smitiuch, doesn’t dispute the fact Petrielli was jaywalking when she was struck. But he alleged an engineer, hired by the family, determined numerous nearby street lights were out.

“Not only was one light out, there were five,” Smitiuch alleged. “Sadly, Maddie’s death didn’t need to happen and it could have been prevented.”

“Crossing the street shouldn’t be a matter of life and death, not when fixing something as simple as a faulty street lighting could have saved Maddie’s life,” he added.

Burnat claimed the street lights were only repaired about 10 days after her daughter’s death.

“And who knows how long they were out before that?” she said.

And while Burnat accepts that her daughter made the mistake of jaywalking, she’s convinced the driver could have avoided hitting her — especially if the area was properly lit.

“Madeleine has her consequences for her choice and she’s been held accountable in the worst way,” she said. “I want the driver to be held accountable for his part and I want the city (and others) to be held accountable for their part.”

In addition to the teen’s mom, her dad, Frank Petrielli, and brothers, Franco Petrielli, 18, and Cole Petrielli, 2, are named as plaintiffs in the civil action.

“We empathize with the family for their loss in this tragic circumstance,” Region of Peel spokesman Irene McCutcheon said, explaining she could not comment further because of “the pending litigation.”

The City of Mississauga was not immediately able to comment. No statements of defence have yet been filed.