Morinville family calling on Morinville and province to curb speeding

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Below: Nathan and Michelle McClinton stand at the corner of 87 Street, near to where their dog Zero was struck and killed Aug. 14. The family is calling for a three-way stop at 87 Street and Highway 642 to stop people speeding through the area. Above: RIP Zero is spray painted on a curb, a colourful reminder a family dog died there. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

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By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – She was named Zero, a name given to her because she looked like the dog in the Tim Burton film A Nightmare Before Christmas. But the death of the McClinton family’s beloved 15-month-old blue heeler / pit-bull mix has turned to a personal nightmare for the McClintons, one they don’t want to see happening again to someone else’s animal or child.

Michelle McClinton said the dog got loose from her property on 87 Street and Highway 642 Aug. 14. She believes the animal may have chased a rabbit across the highway towards the pump house. “She went across the street and apparently she was sitting on the meridian,” McClinton said, adding the dog was ultimately struck by a large F150 hauling a trailer. “I don’t even know if the driver knew he had done it.”

RCMP told McClinton they believe the driver was not speeding. Still, the family is left puzzled as to how someone could hit their animal. “What we cannot fathom is how you do not see a white dog,” McClinton said. “The roads were clear. The weather was great. How do you miss a white dog on the road?”

Though the family has many questions on how the dog wound up crossing the highway and how it came to die, what is certain is no amount of questioning or speculation will return Zero to the family home. The loss of an animal that was a part of the family for more than a year is hardest on son Nathan who held Zero as she died and father Rick, a man the dog took to most, is difficult. “She was joined at the hip to my husband,” McClinton said. “When he went to work in the morning she would sit by the front door and wait for him to come home. He is beyond devastation and it is breaking my heart.”

Wants further tragedies prevented

Zero’s death is not the first dog killed on the road, according to McClinton, and while she understands dogs are in danger when roaming at large, she is particularly concerned with children in the neighbourhood. McClinton said there are a number of Sturgeon Composite and Namao School students who are picked off and dropped off at her corner. Additionally, residents south of 642 cross the highway to make their way to Morinville Community High School and Georges H. Primeau.

“I want Morinville residents to realize this is a problem and it needs to be addressed,” she said of speeding. “Maybe they don’t realize how many children are affected by this. Years ago that was never a development; there was never children there. It’s grown and kids are walking across [the highway] to go to school.”

Always conscious of drivers speeding past their home, Zero’s death made the familiarly particularly conscious as they listened to vehicle after vehicle speed in both directions on Highway 642 the eve of their dog’s death.

“I can hear them picking up the speed,” McClinton said, adding she can hear drivers accelerating as they round the bend in 642 and head east along the highway towards 87 Street. “By the time they get over here they are already at 80 to 100 k[ilometres] an hour.”

She is calling on the Town of Morinville and the province to put in a three-way stop at the intersection of 87 Street and Highway 642. “What I want, and I think it is the one and only thing that is going to work, is a three-way stop,” McClinton said. “I want you to stop coming in. I want you to stop going out. I’m sorry. The speed has got to stop.”

McClinton said she believes the increase in speeding is due to two things: the area is not patrolled and people have the mind-set there are no children in the area. “People automatically think provincial highway,” she said, adding people feel they can do what they like because there is nothing or no one out there. “It’s a very heavy populated area.”

Town taking some measures

McClinton has been directed by the Town to Alberta Transportation. That initial conversation did not produce the answers she wanted, the initial view was that a three-way stop would cause congestion and possible rear-end collisions due to the change in traffic control. She said she would continue to press the fight as she did with Morinville’s Responsible Pet Ownership Law’s clauses on reptiles. “I’m not backing down on this,” McClinton said. “I’m not going to have my dog die for nothing. I’m doing it to protect the children. I’m doing it to protect anyone that’s walking. I’m doing it to protect any animals that might be out there. Yes, my dog should not have been out there but it happens.”

David Schaefer, Morinville’s Director of Corporate Operations, said a three-way stop is not a decision the Town can make. “It’s always a possibility,” Schaefer said of McClinton’s suggestion of a three-way stop on the highway. “That would be a decision of Alberta Transportation.”

The Town of Morinville is taking some steps on Highway 642 for 87 Street and East Boundary Road. Schaefer said he has spoken to McClinton and told her Morinville has put in a request for a gradual speed transition area east of East Boundary Road. “The province has agreed,” Schaefer said, adding the letter has gone off for the Minister of Transportation to sign. “They are going to be creating a transitional.” Currently speeds go from 50 kilometres per hour in Town to 100 km/h out of town. Once implemented, Schaefer expects at least one intermediary speed between the 100 km zone and the 50 km zone to slow drivers down further as they come into town. He cannot say with certainty the same will occur heading out of Town; however, he said it is not at all uncommon for the speed zones to match on both sides of a highway.

Schaefer said he is not sure if adding stop signs would benefit the situation. “Experience has shown stop signs don’t always regulate traffic, which is why the province would have to do the review,” he said. “We have that here around town where we’re looking at stop signs and turning them back into yield signs. There is a time and a place to use a stop sign and the stop sign is not there to regulate speed. It is there to regulate traffic control.”

The Director of Corporate Operations said a cross walk at the Highway 642 / 87 street intersection is not likely to occur in the short term, due to no sidewalk on the south side of the highway. Schaefer said the existence of a trail system at that location may warrant the province to take another look. “A crosswalk could warrant the necessity for a stop sign,” he said. “There are times and place in which we do it.”

Other crosswalks and safety items in works

Although the 87 Street crossing is unlikely to get something soon to control traffic, Schaefer said the Town of Morinville is working on some immediate items for the community’s school zones and downtown core.

Yellow curbing at all corners along 100 Avenue in the downtown area are being extended from 5 metres to 10 metres to allow greater visibility for pedestrians crossing the street and for vehicles turning onto the highway off side streets. “The 642 Functional Plan pointed it out, and this supports better visibility,” Schaefer said. “Increased visibility should increase safety.”

Morinville’s school zone crossings will have a wider zebra markings paint job to make the crossing areas more visible to motorists. In tandem with the painted markings, Schaefer said the zones would also have one solar flashing crosswalk sign at each of the school locations. It is hoped to have the improved safety elements installed shortly after the start of the new school year.

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21 Comments

  1. I feel for you. Losing a pet is heart breaking but putting a stop sign at that intersection will probably kill more people than it saves! The article said that the RCMP believe that the truck that hit your pet was not speeding. I have been writing the town to have pedestrian signs put up and crosswalks painted on the road for the students who must cross. However, I am at a loss to understand why, when there are no pedestrian crossing markings or lights, that busses stop and unload students in the parking lot of the sewage lift station and force them to cross this highway! Why don’t the busses turn down 87th and discharge their students there? And for those who live south of 642, have the busses go into the subdivision and let their passengers off. These busses are saving time and fuel (read money) by dropping these kids off and making them find their own way across 642. Question the town and they hand you off to the province because 642 is owned by the province. Question the province and they refer you to the town. I agree that something should be done to control vehicular traffic on 642, however, stop signs and lowering speeds to unrealistic levels is not the answer. And neither is photo radar. What is needed are a few more peace officers or RCMP members for Morinville who will provide a visible presence and possibly prevent the death of a child / citizen. Sorry for your loss.

  2. it’s owners responsibility that a dog can’t run where he/she wants. can she proof that the dog was just sitting there and did NOT run into the car? sad for the dog, but i think it’s the owners fault, because they didn’t take care for their pet.

  3. if there was any damage to the truck it would be the pet owner who would be liable. there should be a charge of allowing a dog to be at large as well. also spray painting on the roadway is also illegal. why is it that none of these rules are being enforced? i understand losing a pet is heartbreaking but when i go over the speed limit im fined. what is it about this situation that warrants leniency?

  4. absolutely agree mike, she should be fined for spray painting. teens get charged if they graffiti in town!!!

  5. How do she know if the vehicle that hit the dog was speeding? It is no one fault but their own. She should be charged with vandalism and having a dog at large. Also they should see if they had dog license also

  6. Sorry to hear of the loss. These people have real pain and I’m sure they wish they could make things different. Perhaps the graffiti will serve as reminder to pet owners. However, things happen. Lines, crosswalks and curbs need painting…..and maintaining! These are basic things, kind of like changing the oil in a car.
    To the parents who are concerned about the safety of your children: Crossing a hwy is an unacceptable drop off or pick up! Call the school division and when they tell you to call the transportation department of your school division, call them. Then when they refuse to change, call above them! Alberta transportation. Stress safety….get this changed before something devastating happens. I had to go to the top of that food chain before anything happened with my children’s dangerous bus stop. it took a month and a half of my persistance. I went as far as offering to present a slide show to them, offered to pick them up and drive them to my children’s stop. In the end, they changed it and I’d go through that all over again to gain safety for my children……I do what is best for them.

  7. I think you are all ignorant people to be shooting off your mouth the way that you have. You are missing the point to the story, its not about a dog its that speeding is a serious safety issue thru this intersection and the next life that could be affected could be that of a child or adult. I know the owners of this dog if they could take back what has happened they would but for all of you to shoot off your ignorant mouths without looking deeper into the reason behind the story then its a sad state we live in. For those of you who have shot off your mouth then it must be because you are part of the speeding problem and to you I say this – watch out cuz change is coming!!

  8. Resident, if your friend wishes to spotlight speeding and lobby for further restrictions, that is one thing. Yet the fact that their dog was on the loose and paid the ultimate price has nothing to do with the issue, period. The comments about what laws were actually violated here are factual. If your friends want sympathy from the community, they have mine. They won’t get it though, by lobbying for further speed restrictions, it has nothing to do with the loss of their pet.

  9. Wow,
    This family just lost their dog and you trolls just lap this up to complain that spray painting a street is illegal and the dog was at large. Lets kick them while they are down!

    Dogs escape yards the odd time, it happens to everyone. It is a fact of life. If these people want to grieve and spray paint where their dog died, let them.

    I don’t agree with a stop sign nor do I feel the speeding is all that bad in this area but it happens. Sometimes dogs get ran over. It’s unfortunate…. This mother followed the proper avenues because she feels it is unsafe. Decisions will be made and we will carry on.

    Everyone just take a deep breath here and relax. Wow.

  10. 1) why was the dog out there by itself?
    2) why didn’t the owners run after the dog once it got loose?

    If this was my dog, I would have been right on its ass to get him/her inside. Why was it sitting on the road by itself? If you saw the pickup hit it, why didn’t you grab a license plate number? There are quite a few holes in this story…

    This town has a huge issue with dogs at large & it is something that seriously needs to be addressed. I have wanted to write the Editor on this but have not found the time.

    I can’t even walk my own dogs because of the pure ignorance of neglectful dog owners who feel the need to…
    1) walk their dogs off leash (leashing is for the safety of the dog, not punishment for them people!)
    or 2) leave their dogs unsecurily in their yards all day, which they escape and roam freely (who then piss all over my fence, go after my fenced dogs & run up/down the street.). I am so beyond frustrated with the crappy pet owners in this town!

  11. I feel really bad for this family that they lost their Dog but I personally find the spray paint on the road unacceptable and a distraction to those driving by / over it. It’s not a suitable memorial and should be removed ASAP.

    The distraction caused by the paint on the road is a bigger threat to safety than speeding IMO. I drove over it last night before I read this story and found myself slamming on the breaks (and no I wasn’t speeding…) while I tried to process what it was and then what it said….

  12. My condolences to the McClinton family over the loss of Zero, and particularly to Nathan, who unfortunately was the first in the family to find out what happened.
    I witnessed the event and as such would like to describe what I saw, to hopefully clear up some of the confusion and speculation that I’ve read in the article and comments.
    I had just left the old sewer lift station and as I pulled up to the intersecton of 100 Ave. and 87 St., facing north, I noticed Zero. (I didn’t know her name or where she had come from at the time). She was slowly sauntering across the intersection, a bit to my right, but south of the center median. I looked left and saw the truck pulling the trailer approaching from the west, eastbound in the left lane. From my perspective he did not appear to be speeding. I looked back toward Zero and saw she had stopped in the left eastbound lane facing east. I looked back toward the truck and was shocked to see it wasn’t slowing down. I looked back at Zero and at the last instant she realized the danger, moved to go back the way she came, and was struck. This all happened in just a few seconds. The driver immediately knew he’d hit something and slammed on the brakes, dragging Zero under the right front tire to where the truck stopped. I jumped out of my vehicle and ran towards the truck yelling, “Didn’t you see that dog?”. The driver indicated that he did not. We both went around to the front of the truck where Zero was still alive, but bleeding badly. The driver held her until she died, which only took a couple of minutes. He appeared to me to be very distraught, indicating he had dogs of his own, and re-iterating that he had not seen the dog. The young lad then showed up and suffice to say it was an emotional scene all round. I have no doubt the driver did not see that dog. Why he couldn’t see the dog standing in middle of the road, I can’t say. It’s been a week and I’m still disturbed by it.

  13. It is a sad and horrible incident however I did drive through this area tonight and the spray paint truly isn’t appropriate. I could understand the paint on the curb the picture shows, however the spray paint is ACROSS the road! This is very distracting and really should be removed.

  14. I do feel for the family over their loss however, as mentioned multiple times above a stop sign will not solve the issue.
    As far as speeding I still maintain that having town constable/RCMP at that location and issuing tickets with demerits will be the only way to curb the few speeders that go by there. I drive by that location daily ( eastbound and westbound typically in the left lane. On numerous occasion I get passed in the right lane by others that figure doing the speed limit is too slow. Strangely it always seem to be the same vehicles.
    As far as the children are concerned, education about road etiquette should be done by the parents. On numerous occasions, I see kids stepping off the curb without looking,( across from MCHS is the worse location) taunting the drivers by purposely walking slow and if you happen to honk the horn to get their attention you get an obscene gesture back.
    It is the responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians to ensure that it safe to proceed before doing so and never assume that the other sees you.

  15. whats failed to be mentioned is that when the driver draged her, it took 15 metres (45 feet) for him to stop. The spray paint is no more a distraction then when people put up road side memorials. Everyone needs to grab a sense of reality here. The issue at hand is not the dog (get over it, you bunch of self rightous ignorant indiviuals), its the speeding. To answer that ignorant K. Williams comments, the owners were not at home as they were at work (they were notified by town officials and they raced home completely in shock and totally devasted) and the dog found a weak spot in a very well put together fence. It happens dogs will find a weak spot, there is not one person out there that has a dog that can honestly say their dog as never once got out and if they do they’re lying. Everyone needs to get over the petty issues and look at the broad spectrum of this story. I’ve lived in this area for 16 years and speeding is a huge problem both on the highway and on the neighboring street and its about time someone actually stood up for the safety of our friends and neighbors and took action, for who knows the next death that could happen there could be yours or someone you know. Everyone is entitled to their own opionins but being ignorant is not acceptable and thats what you all have been is down right ignorant. You wouldn’t tolerate this type of ignorant behaviour from your children why are you doing it.

  16. Resident, you insist on calling people ignorant. If you wish to use the word, you should look it up in a good dictionary. Are some of these comments somewhat cold and rude? Perhaps. I can say that it is ignorance to suggest that a truck hauling a trailer can be expected to stop on a dime. I can also suggest like-wise regarding the grafitti on the road, it is a distraction and unnecessary. Roadside memorials for people are placed on the other side of ditches, not over the pavement. I’ve lived in this town since 1995, and this is the first incident of any kind that I know of at this location, and in this case it was already documented that the driver was not speeding. I wish the family well and hope they never go through an incident like this again, as well as the driver involved.

  17. Me, ignorant?! The owners who left their frickin dog outside while they went to work are the ignorant ones. I own 2 dogs are there are NO weak spots in my fence..I looked when I moved in & fixed the problem areas. My dogs have NEVER gotten out & are NEVER left unattended in my backyard when I am not home. That is bad pet ownership! When I let my dogs outside, I watch them – IF they got out, I would know unlike these people. When I go to work, I secure them in my house where they belong.

    Why do people leave their dogs outside when they are not home? There are so many things that could happen to the poor animal and there is no one there to help them. It is like leaving a young child back there. Would you leave your 5 year old kid in your back yard while you go to work? Nope! Give your damn head a shake.

    Every day I think more and more that there should be a test to own an animal or have children to prevent idiots from ruining these innocent lives.

  18. All you ignorant people can shut it. That was someone’s best friend. Somebody’s reason to smile before work or even after. I have lived in morinville 17 years. ANd that road has always been an issue for speeding. You all think Ya it is just a dog But tomorrow it could be a kid. What are you going to say than. The family never neglected her. She got out of the yard. The fence is Well built. But because It’s a dog of someone else’s family you all have to be ignorant and rude. Just think if that situation happened to you and your family. You’d be doing the exact the same. So quit with your ignorant comments. They hurt. A lot. Your comments are only making them hurt more. Have a little heart. It’s rough. I understand everyone has their own opinions But don’t be rude. Just think if it happened to you… what will you say than…

  19. Resident and Chantel. How dare you call these comments ignorant and rude. These comments are from citizens who live in this town just like you and are entitled to their opinions. As I said above, I feel for this family, they have lost a member of their family and they are hurting. But, the fact is, the driver was NOT speeding, he stopped as soon as he could after he hit the dog and did everything he could for the pet. This family has chosen to cast the blame on the driver, which is unfair. He did not aim for the dog, it was an accident. The family should be content that he did what he did after the ACCIDENT instead of lashing out and blaming him. Does that make them feel better? I hope not. He did NOTHING wrong. He, like the pet, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunate, but that’s life!

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