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Beyond the numbers: a life remembered, 9 May 2012

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Deana Blanchard, a 17-year-old girl poses for a school photo holding her mortar board before she was tragically killed on a Cairo street by a speeding busDeana Blanchard was only 17 years old when her life was tragically cut short on a busy Cairo road9 May 2013 – One October evening, the life of 17-year-old Deana was cut short on a road in Cairo. Deana was with four friends going to a birthday party. They had just gotten out of a taxi and were trying to cross the Nile Corniche in Maadi, a busy road running alongside the serenity of the Nile River. The taxi driver had let them off on the wrong side of the road. The traffic was heavy, chaotic. There were no traffic lights, no pedestrian crossings, just a constant stream of speeding, weaving cars, trucks and buses. There was nowhere to cross. You have to dart across several lanes of traffic to get to the other side. Deana was hit and killed by a speeding bus as she tried to cross the road. The bus driver didn’t even slow down.

“I was outside of Egypt at the time, travelling for my work. My brother-in-law called me to tell me the terrible news that my baby girl had been hit. You can imagine my guilt. I should have been in Cairo. I could have driven her to the party,” remembers the father.

“Deana loved so many things, she loved life. She always had time for other people, more than for herself. She wanted to be a paediatric dentist – she loved kids. She had a special love of angels. She always had pictures or figurines of angels in her room. For us, she has become the ‘Angel of the Nile’.”

Everyone was deeply affected by Deana’s death, her family, her friends, the entire community and even people she did not know. But this grave and deep pain turned to positive action. “I felt that I had to try to make sense out of the senseless, the unbelievable. I decided to do something tangible, something that would save other people’s lives,” he says.

Deana's father created a nongovernmental organization "Egyptian Society for Road Safety", which is dedicated to making the roads in Egypt safer. Its first project was to build a safe crossing for pedestrians across the Maadi Corniche. The pedestrian bridge was completed last year in Maadi in the hope of saving the lives of people crossing this busy road.

Pedestrian bridge built by the nongovernmental organization Egyptian Society for Road Safety in memory of Deana Blanchard, killed in 2002, in MaadiPedestrian bridge in Maadi, Cairo, built by the nongovernmental organization Egyptian Society for Road Safety in 2012. Simple low-cost engineering measures which take into account the needs of all road users could save many thousands of lives every year.

Based on Faces behind the figures: voices of road traffic crash victims and their families. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2007. 

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