Days after an RCMP warning about potential lug nut tampering, a Langley family is recounting a terrifying encounter with a flying tire on a B.C. highway.
Danny Calla and his wife Angela were taking his mother Josephine to the Andrea Bocelli concert at Rogers Arena on June 13 to celebrate her birthday.
But as they were travelling westbound on the Mary Hill Bypass in Coquitlam, they were hit with some unexpected pre-show fireworks.
“Everything happened so fast,” said Danny Calla, who was driving at the time.
“It was just like, unreal,” added Josephine Calla.
The trio said they heard a noise coming from the eastbound lane before spotting something black heading straight for their Honda Civic.
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“We look to the left and we see this big flying object coming towards us,” Angela Calla said.
Danny says he rushed to try and shield Josephine, who was sitting in the front passenger seat.
“I grabbed my mother’s head and I just braced her face,” he said, “and the tire came crashing down onto the windshield.”
Danny’s mother ended up taking the brunt of the impact when the loose tire hit.
“It sounded like an explosion inside the vehicle,” said Danny. “The windshield just shattered all over my mother and my wife in the backseat.”
Josephine added, “I thought, are we gonna make it or not? I was in shock.”
On June 18, Burnaby RCMP warned about the possibility that someone is purposely loosening wheels from vehicles, after receiving two reports from residents who noticed their vehicles’ wheel lug nuts had been slackened.
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In one case, a cube van driver lost a wheel while driving on Marine Way at Byrne Road on June 11.
Another driver reported their vehicle’s wheel lug nuts being loosened while it was parked in the 3500-block of Brighton Avenue on June 17.
Fortunately, neither driver nor anyone else was hurt.
Police are urging motorists to check their wheels before they drive — but it appears freak accidents can happen even after vehicle servicing.
Last month, a New Westminster man had one of his wheels come off and fly into oncoming traffic as he drove away from a tire shop after having work done on his vehicle. Again, no one was hurt.
The Callas say police told them their close call happened two days after the driver of the other vehicle involved, a minivan, had put summer tires on.
“Totally unexpected,” said Danny. “And then not knowing if you’re gonna get hit from behind either.”
Angela Calla still can’t believe what happened.
“Very scary, it’s just random.”
Luckily, no other drivers were behind the Callas or beside them on the highway. Danny managed to pull over safely to the shoulder, where the family waited for first responders to arrive.
“I’m still shaking when I think about it,” said Josephine. “I get shaky.”
While the family escaped injury, their vehicle remains at the shop awaiting repairs for a shattered windshield and crushed support beam.
Although the family did eventually make it to the concert, Danny has some advice for other drivers.
“Be vigilant, watch where you’re going,” he warned. “You’ve got to keep your eyes open, anything could happen at any time.”