NEWS
02/05/2018 09:59 EST | Updated 02/05/2018 12:01 EST

Montreal mom dead, boy critical after being struck by car driven by 90-year-old

MONTREAL — An accident that claimed the life of a Montreal woman and left her young son in critical condition is highlighting the issue of aging seniors behind the wheel.

Montreal police said Sunday's incident, which involved a 90-year-old driver, occurred in a shopping centre in Montreal's Saint-Laurent borough.

A mother, 44 was walking in a parking lot with her five-year-old son when they were struck by a car.

Police spokeswoman Caroline Chevrefils said the driver has already been questioned about the tragic accident.

"He was met by investigators on the scene of the accident and he was a little bit confused and a little bit in a state of shock," she said Monday.

The woman was rushed to hospital where she died of her injuries.

The young boy's father was at his side at the hospital on Monday.

A person who is close to the family said the family was seeking privacy.

He described the father as a popular Montreal-born Lebanese singer who is "well-loved", adding that he also has a daughter.

"It's been a difficult time and he doesn't want to release any information," said the man, who also did want to be identified.  

He runs a towing company and said one of his drivers was the first to arrive on the scene, helping authorities lift the vehicle to get access to the victims who were pinned underneath.

Statistics complied by Quebec's automobile insurance bureau (SAAQ) suggest an overall increase in the number of older drivers over a five-year period thanks to an aging population.

The number of drivers holding a valid permit aged 90 and older has almost doubled — from 4,405 in 2011, to 8,434 in 2016.

For drivers 85 and over, the numbers also jumped from just over 31,000 in 2011 to 49,000 in 2016.

Gino Desrosiers, a SAAQ spokesman, adds that each year, between four and five thousand people over the age of 75 decide by themselves to stop driving "because they don't feel they can do it safely."

There were over 5.3 million Quebecers with a valid driver's permit in 2016.

Desrosiers stresses that older drivers are required to undergo exams when they go to get their personal driver's permit renewed for five years. 

"At the age of 75 drivers undergo a regular visual exam and a medical exam by their doctor," he said. "Then at 80, (it's) every two years and that's submitted to our medical team to be analyzed to see if the person has the physical and cognitive competence to drive a vehicle." 

Conditions may also be imposed, like no night driving, and the driver might also be obliged to wear glasses, he said.