Authorities say a baby’s stroller likely saved the tot’s life when scaffolding and building debris suddenly came crashing down on a midtown Toronto street, sending seven people to hospital.
The scaffolding was set against the facade of a former restaurant at Bathurst Street and Eglinton Avenue being demolished for a transit station when it fell around 2:30 p.m. Monday, trapping three people.
None of the seven hospitalized suffered life-threatening injuries, though three were in serious condition, Toronto paramedic Cmdr. Peter Rotolo told reporters.
A six-month-old was being pushed along in a stroller when debris came toppling down, but the infant escaped harm as the stroller bore the brunt of the rubble, said Toronto Fire Cmdr. Bob O’Halloran.
“The stroller is all twisted and bent but fortunately the infant is not injured at all,” he said. “The stroller must have saved that baby.”
Firefighters had to use jacks to get people out from under the debris, O’Halloran said, adding things were made easier because the building material “didn’t go flat” as it fell, leaving room for rescuers.
Rotolo said that while there were several fractures and head injuries the toll “could have been worse.”
Police said search dogs scoured the rubble but found no other victims.
The building was a former two-storey Chinese restaurant being converted into the western exit for the future Forest Hill light-rail station of the Metrolinx Crosstown line.
Metrolinx executive John Jensen repeatedly called the incident an “accident,” and declined to answer reporters’ questions about what may have caused the collapse.
“We will find this out in the coming days,” he said.
Jensen said the transit agency is co-operating with a Ministry of Labour investigation and that safety is the agency’s top priority.
Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said no Metrolinx employees were hurt but couldn’t account for the contractors handling the demolition.
City officials had been briefed by Metrolinx last week and there were no safety concerns, said local Coun. Joe Mihevc, who called the incident “concerning.”
The area was closed off as police and authorities investigated.