A Comber, Ont., family is praising the final act of a trucker who suffered a fatal heart attack while driving a tractor-trailer on Highway 401 near Kingston, Ont.
“He was my hero growing up and he’s still my hero today,” said Wayne Demars, son of 71-year Gary Demars who died Oct. 23.
Gary had a sudden heart attack while driving a transport loaded with cars on the highway, but instead of losing control of the vehicle, he steered it to safety. Family members say they were told by OPP that Gary pulled his truck over to the side of the road, and although traffic was slowed, no crashes stemmed from the incident.
“A witness stated the vehicle gradually left the road, no signal light and no braking,” OPP confirmed to Global News.
Wayne says the family believes it was Gary’s last heroic act.
“There could have been a lot of people not going home that night. The only person that didn’t go home was my father, but he saved a lot of lives,” Wayne told Global News just hours before Gary’s funeral on Thursday.
Wayne says his family — his mother in particular — have a message for the first responders that attended the scene that day.
“A special thanks to all the officers, paramedics and everybody up there that did everything they possibly could for my father,” Wayne said.
He added that his father was the type of man that would do just about anything for anyone, especially children.
“If any one of our children got sick or the grand-kids or anything like that he would want something there for them.”
This is why the grieving family has asked for memorial donations go to the Children’s Wish Foundation.
Gary Demars is survived by his wife of 44 years Josephine, three children and eight grandchildren.
— With files from Alexandra Mazur