Witnesses recount horror as van plowed into Toronto pedestrians

Witnesses recount horror as van plowed into Toronto pedestrians
CTV Network via CNN

A white van plowed into pedestrians in Toronto’s bustling North York area on Monday, killing 10 people and leaving eyewitnesses traumatized.

Witnesses said there was pandemonium after the vehicle collided with people crossing a busy intersection at Yonge Street and Finch Avenue, mounting the sidewalk and leaving a trail of destruction almost a mile long.

Chelsea Luelo, who works at Capriccio Caf, saw the incident unfold and said she thought the driver was hitting people intentionally: “It looked like he was going straight, halfway through the sidewalk.”

“Everyone was going crazy,” a witness told CNN network partner CTV, saying the vehicle was going up to 45 miles an hour (70 km/h) when it hid the crowd.

The man, who was overcome with emotion by the horror he had seen, was driving at the time and said he at first thought the driver was having a heart attack until he saw the white van speeding and striking people on the sidewalk.

“He’s just hitting people one by one, going down,” the witness said. “It’s a nightmare … it was really bad out there. All these people on the street getting hit one by one. “

He added he had seen a “stroller with a baby … flying in the air … split in half,” though he added he did not see whether it was occupied.

Bersat Noorai, the manager of Taftan Kebab, said he saw the white van hit the bench in front of his restaurant. He ran outside and saw two or three people on the ground.

‘He died in our arms’

At least 10 people were transported to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, where two were declared dead. Others injured were treated at the scene by first responders and members of the public.

Christian Ali described the aftermath of the incident to CNN, saying he saw a man “unconscious in the middle of the road and a policeman leaning over him holding his neck.”

About a block up the street, he saw a woman who look like she had died. “She’s face down on the concrete, a lot of fluid coming out of her head,” Ali said.

“About 20 seconds after that, I came upon a crowd of about 30 people … probably about five people on the ground, bleeding,” he said, adding that pedestrians were performing CPR.

Diego DeMatos was one of those who attempted to save the injured. He was driving to the gym when he saw the van hit a man and a woman.

“Blood started gushing out of his head, and she was bleeding really badly, too,” DeMatos said. At first, he thought the collision was a hit-and-run, but he noticed four to five victims on the ground, “some of them were moving, some of them were motionless.”

“It was like a scene from a war zone,” he said. “There was garbage cans everywhere, broken bus shelters and mailboxes on the ground.”

DeMatos said he stopped to help another victim, who was already being aided by someone. “I went over to try to perform CPR on him. … He died in our arms.”

One woman who was wearing a scarf took it off and gave it to them and they covered the victim.