Torontonians are rallying together in wake of Monday’s deadly van attack with vigils, memorials and acts of kindness.
But the selfless acts began to shine through just moments after the incident, which left 10 dead and 15 injured, took place.
Toronto resident Taras Kulish was in a nearby restaurant when a van plowed into pedestrians on Yonge Street. That’s when he saw the white Ryder van, allegedly being driven by 25-year-old Alek Minassian, zoom by.
“We knew something was obviously not right, so we ran out of the restaurant,” Kulish told Global News.
Kulish and his friend rushed to help a man injured in the attack, whose name is not known. He described the difficult scene, saying others including the restaurant owner, came out to help.
“He was hit, he was in bad shape, he was dragged,” Kulish explained. “You could see that he was dragged about 50 feet. You could see the marks on him. There was blood at the initial point of impact.”
The victim’s clothes had been ripped apart, and his body was “all turned and twisted,” the witness described.
The helpers at the scene tried to dial 911, but the lines were jammed. Kulish then ran to flag down a firetruck and guide it toward the man.
“I knew that the cop shop was just around the corner, so I went to the intersection and basically flagged down a firetruck and told them to go to this fellow.”
It took the first responders about three minutes to come to the victim, and they then “untwisted” him and secured him.
“The firemen came, they did their job, they did a great job,” Kulish said.
Still processing what he saw, Kulish explained he didn’t want to rush to conclusions about the incident.
“Right now, I just hope that his guy is going to be OK.”
The hashtag #TorontoTheGood has also emerged on Twitter, with the city’s residents urging each other to make kindness the priority — rather than fear or division.
That means smiling at strangers, pausing to say hello, and asking neighbours how they are doing.
Beyond the hashtag
Those in the city, and around the country, looking to help victims and their loved ones have been finding several ways to pitch in.
A GoFundMe page started by outreach group Canada Zakat is raising money to cover the funeral expenses of those killed. The campaign has collected more than $53,000 so far and has a goal of $1 million.
The charity, Islamic Relief Canada, has set up a similar online fundraiser on LaunchGood, which has raised more than $2,000.
Toronto-based Sunnybrook Hospital, where several victims are being treated, has made a call for blood donations.
— With files from Global News reporter Marilisa Racco