4 Amazing Heroes From Toronto’s Van Attack You Should Know
In a horrible news week, let us shed light on the Torontonians who tried to help.
It has been a difficult week for Toronto, after a man driving a white rental van careened into a crowd of pedestrians on Monday, hitting and killing 10 people and injuring 14 others.
Alek Minassian, 25, has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. A 14th attempted murder charge is expected, according to The Globe and Mail.
Among the deceased are Anne Marie D’Amico, Chul Min "Eddie" Kang, Dorothy Sewell, Renuka Amarasinghe, and Munir Abed Alnajjar.
In a time like this, it’s important to pay respect to the victims, and also to shed light on the people who did their best to help those affected during a tragic event.
Here are four heroes that stood out during the dreadful incident that took place on Monday.
Bill Perivolaris, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) special constable
TTC Special Constable Bill Perivolaris was heading to Yonge and Finch Ave. after a red alarm was activated on a bus in the area. A TTC red alarm is a silent alarm used to identify a high-level emergency, according the Star.
He arrived at the intersection around 1:30 p.m. with the person he was training that day, responding to the alarm, and they immediately jumped in to provide first aid to victims on scene.
"I’ve been on here for 23 years, and what happened was, in my mind, my training kicked in, and my years of experience kicked in, and I was much too busy to think about what was going on other than to assist as much as possible and allow your training to do what you’re supposed to do," he told the Star.
Perivolaris stayed to help until about 7:30 p.m., after starting work at 5 a.m., according to the Star.
"We had a lot of help there from a lot of citizens, just wonderful people. They were trying to assist in first aid, others just trying to comfort people, trying to feel for pulses, trying to assist in gathering evidence," he said.
Mike Killingsworth, head of transit enforcement at the TTC, said that about 12 special constables and a sergeant helped in the aftermath.
Diego DeMatos, witness who performed CPR
Diego DeMatos was driving to the gym in the area when he watched the van hit two victims, according to CNN. He thought it had been a hit and run. He slowly continued to drive up the road as traffic was piling up behind him.
A little ways up, he saw four or five more bodies and that is when he heard someone calling out for help with man who was laying in the street, according the Star.
DeMatos parked his car and ran over to help.
The victim was bleeding from the head and had leg injuries. DeMatos started CPR, but he quickly realized it was too late.
"He basically just passed away in our arms," he told CNN.
A woman came over to place her scarf over the deceased man’s face.
DeMatos stayed to speak with the authorities and left as police, fire, and EMS arrived and removed bystanders from the scene.
"I just want to keep following the news and see if I can find the guy ... I don’t know if it was the last minutes that he had," he told the Star. "It’s important to me."
Franklin Edishou, pizza maker
A small act of kindness can go a long way in a situation like this, and Franklin Edishou proved that on Monday.
Edishou is a franchisee of a Pizza Nova near the scene of the attack. Following the incident, Edishou decided he could help in a small way — by making first responders’ lunch.
He made pizza for the first responders and brought them water, knowing they would be working for as long as it took and wouldn’t be able to take a break.
"It was nothing — a small token of appreciation," he told the Star.
Constable Ken Lam, the cop who stayed cool under pressure
The Toronto police officer who is being praised by many for his non-violent arrest has now been identified as Constable Ken Lam.
There are a number of videos circulating of the arrest on Monday, and they all piece together to same story.
In the videos, suspect Minassian steps out of van and points what looks like could be a gun at Const. Lam. The suspect seems to yell something, but it’s hard to hear over the police car’s siren.
Lam doesn’t shoot Minassian. Instead, he walks over to his car and turns off the siren.
The officer tells the suspect to get down, but he refuses and says that he has a gun in his pocket. Still, the officer does not shoot and continues to tell the driver to get down. The pair moves in toward each other. Lam seems to realizes Minassian doesn’t have a gun and eventually the driver surrenders and Lam places him under arrest.
"The way in which it went down was nothing short of remarkable," Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said at a press conference.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time a van has sped through a crowd with the apparent intent of killing innocent pedestrians — a shocking 86 people were killed in Nice in 2016, eight in London last year, 16 in Barcelona and Cambrils in 2017, and five in Stockholm this past January.
Often these attacks end with the driver being shot down by an officer. Such was the case in London, Nice, and for one in Barcelona.
But in Toronto this week, the office successfully and calmly managed to arrest the suspect, who now faces multiple charges, and who will now be able to provide the police with information.
"The officers here are taught to use as little force as possible in any given situation," Saunders said. "The officer did a fantastic job with respect to utilizing his ability of understanding the circumstance and the environment, and having a peaceful resolution at the end of the day."