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'I've never seen him not smiling': Coworkers say cyclist killed in Parkdale was hardworking father

Third cyclist dies on Toronto's streets this year, and in an area residents say has long been a problem.

David Delos Santos was struck by a driver who crashed into a streetcar at King and Cowan Avenue, making him the third cyclist killed on Toronto’s streets in 2017.

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David Delos Santos was struck by a driver who crashed into a streetcar at King and Cowan Avenue, making him the third cyclist killed on Toronto’s streets in 2017.

Wednesday should have been an average morning for David Delos Santos.

He was riding his bike near the Parkdale building where he lived and worked as a resident manager, according to coworkers at MetCap Living. The father had recently returned from a family holiday in Niagara Falls and had just dropped his daughter off at school.

But around 9 a.m., Delos Santos was struck by a driver who had crashed into a streetcar at King and Cowan Avenue. He was pinned against a building.

The 39-year-old died of his injuries, making him the third cyclist killed on Toronto's streets in 2017.

"He was really, really the best," said Vesna Anastasov, who worked with him at MetCap. "I've never seen him not smiling."

The young father was a recent immigrant from the Philippines. He was the best resident manager they had, she said, and worked constantly.

"The tenants are crying today for him," added her colleagueFjoralba Jano. A GoFundMe page has been set up to support his family.

He's not the first cyclist or pedestrian struck in the area.

Two pedestrians were killed in 2014 at nearby King and Close Avenue, and King and Jameson Avenue. Another pedestrian was seriously injured at Close and King in 2016, and a cyclist was seriously injured at King and Tyndall Avenue in 2015.

Daphne Vasquez, who lived in the building Delos Santos managed, was seriously injured while on her bike at Tyndall Avenue and King just this spring.

"I'm really shook up," she said, adding Delos Santos and his wife "have always been very nice."

Parkdale resident Melissa Sheppard said increased traffic in the area has gotten so bad it was a factor in her decision to sell her house on nearby Springhurst Avenue.

"It's the volume coming in and out of Liberty Village. And the traffic and speed violations are non stop," she said in a Facebook message.

Sheppard said she's seen an increase in traffic every year since she moved there and isn't even comfortable letting her four-year-old daughter learn to ride her bike on the sidewalk, as cars often drive up on it.

"It's terrifying as a parent," she said.

Coun. Gord Perks said he has heard from many residents who are "sacred and deeply, deeply saddened" by the crash.

Perks said his office hasn't received complaints about King and Cowan specifically, but in May a new traffic light was approved at King and Close.

While there's nothing in the city's  $80.3-million road-safety plan for King and Cowan, there are upcoming measures to improve safety in Parkdale, including a new cycling connection from High Park to Sorauren Avenue.

But that plan, said Perks, is not enough to ensure Toronto's streets are safe for pedestrians and cyclists.

"We have a high-level goal, but the practical work is very piecemeal," he said.

"It just reminds me that I have to keep pushing against a council that is reluctant to give priority to the most vulnerable street users."

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