Five-year-old struck and killed by garbage truck on Cliffside Drive

It is a parent’s worst nightmare: feeling your children are safe at school and not having them return home.

Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger
Kayleigh Callaghan-Belanger
PHOTO: Submitted

Toronto Police say the garbage truck was travelling westbound on East Haven and made a left turn onto southbound Cliffside Drive. The children were crossing on the south side of Cliffside Drive from east to west.

The driver of the truck, a 64-year-old male city employee, was also taken to hospital after he collapsed at the scene. A witness on scene said the driver got out of his truck and “his legs were like spaghetti” before he fell to the ground.

Liam Middleton, who lives in the area, was a block away when the incident happened and recalled hearing the crash.

“I heard this screeching noise, it sounded really weird, like it actually hit something,” Middleton said. “I ran back to see what happened and I saw three little kids on the ground.”

The children were on their way home from nearby Cliffside Public School. The area is busy with children on the streets after school is let out and on weekends, said some of the residents.

Kayleigh was laid to rest on March 13 after a service at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Birchmount Road.

While the tragic crash is still being investigated by Toronto Police, some wonder if it’s time to install sidewalks on the side streets in the area.

Kayleigh’s step-grandfather, Jim Patton, would like changes to be made so that a similar tragedy will not occur again. When asked if he is concerned when children go back to school, he answered with a definitive “yes.”

“It’s been tough,” said Patton after the funeral service. “It’s hard. We’ve lost a child – a beautiful child. It could have been prevented.”

Patton wants Kayleigh to be remembered as a happy child, just like when she left for school on the day of the accident.

Other residents in the area agree that change needs to happen in the area.

“The City should have put in sidewalks years ago,” said Sarah Studeny, an area resident of 21 years. “It’s bulls*** how on the north side of Kingston Road there’s sidewalks everywhere if you look, and on the south side we don’t have any.”

A petition has been set up online asking the City to improve road safety in the area by installing sidewalks. It can be found at, search for ‘Cliffside’.

Police have not laid any charges.

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