Crossing grief

Crossing guards were monitoring the area and grief counsellors were on hand on the first school day since the death of a nine-year-old girl in Abbotsford.

Hala Albarhoum died in hospital Friday after being hit by the BC Transit bus, and was laid to rest over the weekend. The young Syrian refugee had been crossing the street at a cross walk at South Fraser Way and Hill-Tout Street at about 8:20 a.m.

Two guards were assigned to the area around the school Monday morning, keeping an eye on children returning to school.

Officers with the Abbotsford Police Department were also there to supervise ahead of the start of the school day. One officer told CTV News he hoped his police cruiser, with lights turned on, would remind drivers to slow down.

A mother who lived in the same building as Hala said returning to school was emotional.

"Just to see the police and guards here today is… it's sad to see them be here now when she's already gone," Christine Gagnon said through tears.

"She was a very happy little girl, smiled all the time."

Grief counsellors were also brought in the elementary school to talk to anyone struggling with Hala's death.

Few details have been released about the crash, but the school district confirmed that no crossing guards were there at the time. The school contracts out crossing guard services to an organization that provides volunteers, but there isn't always someone available.

Parents say the intersection is dangerous and they want a guard assigned full time.

The contracting company has declined to comment on the girl's death, citing an ongoing police investigation.

The school district said it would discuss the issue at a further meeting and would not comment about the crossing guard situation.

Her family had only been in Canada about a year, entering the country as refugees from Syria. An online fundraiser was set up following the girl's death, and had raised nearly $30,000 by Monday morning.

-With files from CTV

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