Nine people are dead, and sixteen more are injured, many critically, after a rental van mowed down pedestrians for close to three kilometers in North York Monday afternoon.
Aerial footage from the scene showed victims on the sidewalk covered with orange tarps, as police taped off the surrounding blocks. The Globe and Mail has not confirmed the number of people dead at the scene. Sunnybrook Hospital has confirmed one person has died in hospital.
Michele Kelman, who works at an IT company with an office on Yonge St., said she was walking back to work after lunch with a friend when they heard screams behind them.
Ms. Kelman said she turned and saw objects and bodies flying through the air and the front end of a white van heading straight down the sidewalk toward her.
She turned instinctively, trying to shield herself, and the truck rushed past without touching her.
When she turned back she saw only carnage. “My friend was gone,” she said. “I couldn’t find her body for a while. There were a few around. And there were people trying to bring her back.”
Ms. Kelman said she her friend did not survive. She declined to identify her because her family hasn’t yet been notified.
“I thought maybe she was still alive. I thought maybe she ran,” Ms. Kelman said. “There were bodies all over,” she said, her eyes red, her hands still shaky.
John Flengas, acting superintendent for EMS Toronto, said that several people died on scene.
“The numbers are just starting to come in,” he said.
“It’s unprecedented. We’ve never seen anything like this in Toronto up until now…we never thought this would happen here…it’s a level of surreal…you go in and treat each patient with an individual focus, then you move to the next one.”
“This is not something we’ve seen in the city of Toronto.”
The white van, which had a Ryder Truck Rental and Leasing logo on its side, fled the area, making it roughly three kilometers before being stopped on the sidewalk near Poyntz Avenue. It had severe front-end damage.
Police have not released any information about the cause of the crash. The driver is reportedly in custody.