Advertisement

‘Everyone started running and screaming’: Eyewitnesses describe panic as van hits Toronto pedestrians

Witnesses in Toronto van crash describe seeing people hit in attack
WATCH: Witness talks about standoff, arrest of suspect in Toronto van crash

At least ten people were killed and 16 others were injured after a white van jumped the curb on a busy Toronto street Monday afternoon.

Police say the van drove down the sidewalk southbound on Yonge Street, southwards from Finch Avenue, hitting pedestrians as it went. The extent of the injuries aren’t yet known, but witnesses described a scene of panic.

READ MORE: Alek Minassian suspected driver in Toronto van attack that killed 10, injured 14

The sidewalk in front of Mel Lastman Square was busy Monday afternoon.

“It looked like a big moving truck came up onto the sidewalk by the Starbucks and came around the hot dog stand,” Shaifa Chandani told Global News. “Everyone started running and screaming, and he hit this one lady and she went flying.”

“Then he hit another lady. I didn’t see cause I was running, but you could hear them dropping. He hit maybe, like, four people, and everyone was kind of in shock.”

Story continues below advertisement

The van appeared to be travelling at a high speed, about 80 km/h, according to witnesses reports.

Barry Mather, a delivery driver from Bolton, told Global News Radio 640 Toronto’s Kelly Cutrara that he saw a “banged up” white van while he was making a delivery on Bogert Avenue, near Yonge and Sheppard.

“I was coming out of my van and I’d look and I’d hear this scraping and grinding noise and there’s this white Ryder van coming towards me so I had to jump out of the way.”

There were multiple bodies covered in blankets at the scene, and paramedics were seen treating victims on the sidewalk.

Ali Shaker said he was driving behind the van during the incident.

“I seen him smash into something here, but I didn’t realize what was going on. I’m like, ‘Okay, someone’s hurt,’ then I see him keep going down, one after another, and he just drove on the sidewalk,” Shaker told Global News.

“Anybody in his path, they were flying in the air.”

WATCH: Witness of Toronto van crash describes seeing bodies flying

Witness of Toronto van attack describes seeing bodies flying
Witness of Toronto van attack describes seeing bodies flying

One witness told Global News that he believes the incident was deliberate.

Story continues below advertisement

“I saw a van coming from the other side, and there was a guy trying to cross the street, and he hit the guy on purpose.  The guy flew a good five to six meters. He was dead right away,” Amir Farokhpour said.

He said it looked like it was on purpose because the pedestrian was on the opposite side of the street from the van, and the van appeared to veer into the pedestrian.

“He came on this side just to hit the guy.”

Police are still investigating the incident and have not yet determined whether it was intentional.

Nick Sanka was studying at the Starbucks at Mel Lastman Square at the time of the incident, and said he looked up after he heard people scream.

WATCH: Witness describes moment car struck multiple pedestrians in Toronto

Witness describes moment car struck multiple pedestrians in Toronto
Witness describes moment car struck multiple pedestrians in Toronto

“They were all on the sidewalk and they were just going, and then he turned right at the corner. I saw people, like, jumping out of the way,” witness Nick Sanka told Global News.

“By the time I came here, I saw someone with blood trailing, all that,” he said. He saw at least three people who had died in the incident, he said.

Story continues below advertisement

“From what I’d seen, he had somewhat of a control over the vehicle. It wasn’t as if he was swerving or he was impaired or something,” Sanka said.

Farokhpour said he and some other bystanders tried to help the victim, but they were too late.

“There was blood, they covered it — he was … he was hit pretty bad. And we couldn’t do much because he was, he was dead right away,” he said.

The van was found a short distance away, and the driver was arrested at the scene.

According to a video of the scene, the driver pointed something at a police officer on the scene before dropping to the ground and being taken into custody.