TORONTO — It’s been 20 years, but Laura Beauparlant remembers the night vividly.
A second year student at Sheridan College, she was returning to Toronto from her parents’ house in Guelph on Nov. 12, 1995 when tragedy struck.
“All of a sudden I see headlights coming towards me … it was a 200 km/hr impact … it was absolutely the most terrifying experience of my life,” recalled Beauparlant, whose vehicle was hit head-on by an impaired driver.
The crash happened on the Hanlon Expressway around 8 p.m. It was a busy night on the roads and motorists immediately pulled over and rushed to Beauparlant and the wreckage.
“I was trapped in my car panicking, screaming, terrified,” she said. Until a man named Martin arrived at her side.
“I remember him stroking my hair and asking me questions to keep me conscious and I do believe if it wasn’t for him I would have definitely lost consciousness due to my injuries,” says Beauparlant.
Her injuries were severe. The car she’d been driving was hit head-on, had spun around and landed in a ditch, the airbag deployed, the windows shattered.
Beauparlant was wedged inside the vehicle unable to move.
“Basically my left femur was shattered, I remember somebody describing it as looking like corn flakes,” she said.
It was chaos at the scene as police and paramedics arrived. But Martin held her hand through it all and kept her calm. And for that act of kindness, she’s grateful.
“I want to tell him thank you, and tell him what that meant to me and how much of an impact it had,” she said.
The problem is, she doesn’t know who Martin is. It was dark and a streetlight shone behind him so she could only make out his silhouette.
She remembers he wore an earring in his left ear, wore his hair in a buzz cut, and he smelled of cigarette smoke.
Martin even called the hospital the following day to check up on her. Beauparlant asked the nurse to get his last name but it was passed on as either “Mires” or “Mayers” with no correct spelling and no contact information to reach him.
So as Beauparlant approaches the 20-year anniversary of that crash, she hopes someone will hear her story and clue in.
She’s desperate to give Martin a big hug to show him her gratitude after all these years.
As for the driver who caused the crash that night, he was charged with impaired driving and sentenced to nine months in jail. He served just three months.
But Beauparlant forgave him years ago.
She harbours no resentment, just curiosity, about the mysterious man named Martin. The man who became a hero to a young woman in her darkest hour.