Calgary police apologize to family over news release about girl’s death


Calgary police have apologized to the family of a little girl who was killed when she was hit by a vehicle in 2016, saying they are sorry they released unverified information to the media.

The information said a witness indicated one of the parents of four-year-old Avayah Toulon had waved the vehicle through the intersection just before the fatal collision.

This week, police issued a retraction saying that the witness account was released without verification and that the investigation was unable to confirm or trace the information.

The Toulon family tell CTV Calgary they were devastated by the suggestion and that public speculation about the circumstances of the girl’s death hurt them and hindered their ability to heal.

Tanis Lambert, 39, was behind the wheel of the truck that hit the girl and was charged with careless driving and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.

The charges were dropped against Lambert in October of this year after the court determined that there was conflicting evidence in the case.

“The statement said that I waved the vehicle through the intersection while my other children were still on the road,” said Samantha Toulon. “Number one, I had a baby in my arms at the time and number two, I would never wave a vehicle through any intersection while my children are still on the road. It literally brought me to my knees. I was beyond devastated because then I was to blame in people’s eye.”

The family was walking home from the river and were only a block away from home when the tragedy happened.

“We walk that way all the time and to have people think that we weren’t watching our children, that our children were messing about near a main road, to have that picture painted of us was devastating,” she said.

Craig Toulon, Avayah’s father, said he hasn’t been able to work since his daughter’s death and that the trial created more pain for his family.

“I’m struggling to sleep, I’m struggling to eat. I find myself getting very anxious from the time I wake up to the time I try to go to sleep,” he said. “I feel more tired now because, just mentally, I can’t drop what happened here and I just keep replay, replay, replay.”

He said they are pleased that police have apologized, but they feel let down by the system.

“It’s unbelievable that any professional body can release such a harmful statement without knowing even who said this,” he said.

“Since this happened our whole family has been judged on what has been said. Anybody that knows us, knows different, but not everybody knows us so it’s hard, it’s hard to enjoy life with our children now. We’re scared all the time.”

The family has filed a civil lawsuit against Lambert.