‘I dodged a bullet:’ Ontario man recalls moment flying tire hit car, drivers encouraged to check wheels

Click to play video: 'Flying tire incidents in Ontario serve as reminder to retorque wheels' Flying tire incidents in Ontario serve as reminder to retorque wheels
WATCH ABOVE: Catherine McDonald spoke to Tyler Hamel, the latest victim to be impacted by a flying tire, and shares an important message for drivers. – Apr 9, 2021

Thirty-eight-year-old Tyler Hamel says he was “lucky as heck” that he only suffered a concussion, scrapes, a sore neck and bruises after an incident involving a flying tire on Thursday, describing it as “dodging a bullet.”

The General Motors employee had just left work in Oshawa and was driving along Highway 401 eastbound near Courtice Road at around 2:50 p.m. when a tire separated from a westbound pick-up truck came bouncing across the median, right towards his car.

“I really don’t remember too much of the actual accident. I have a picture in my head of a tire coming at me. I don’t know if I conjured it up or it was something real,” Hamel told Global News.

Hamel said he believes at the last second, he ducked down to the right and cranked the wheel before the car spun out and hit the guardrail.

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Read more: Wife of man critically injured by flying tire on Hwy. 400 speaks out about vehicle safety

The next thing he said he remembers is being in the ambulance and asking to call his wife.

“The paramedic had my phone. I said I need to phone my wife right now and he looked at me kind of crazy and he gave me the phone and I called her and I said, ‘Melissa, I’ve been in a terrible accident. I need you to come and help me’ and sure enough she says, ‘I know. I’m on my way. You’ve already called me three times. This is the third time you’ve called me,'” Hamel recalled while laughing.

He explainined his wife was already on her way out the door. 

Read more: Critics of accident insurance reform say Ontario drivers not protected in case of a serious crash

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the driver of the pick-up truck involved told investigators he had just installed his summer tires on his vehicle. He reminded motorists to always retorque their wheels after changing their tires.

“If they’re not installed properly, this could be the result,” Schmidt told Global News.

Earlier on Thursday, two tractor-trailers lost wheels in separate incidents. One happened on Highway 400 southbound at Sheppard Avenue and the other on Highway 401 eastbound at Neilson Road. On March 30, a woman driving a Ford Explorer on Highway 401 near Renforth Drive escaped injured when a bouncing wheel came from oncoming lanes.

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Read more: ‘That’s a joke’: Ontario man reacts as driver faces $2,000 fine in near-fatal collision

Meanwhile, Hamel said he always checks his wheels after changing from summer to winter tires and vice versa and has never worried about flying tires before.

“I’m been driving the highway for 15 years and of course the thought crossed my mind but (I thought) luckily, it will never happen to me. When it hit me, it was like the biggest surprise of my life,” he said, urging other drivers to always check their vehicle’s lug nuts.

“I also double-checked mine. Everybody should be double checking theirs.”

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