Accidents happen. They’re especially likely to happen when there’s a significant discrepancy in vehicle size – perhaps, when a dump truck clips a Mini Cooper that’s exponentially lighter, as was the case in Toronto earlier this week.
Only, this particular incident didn’t end right after contact. Instead, it continued for almost half a mile, as the truck pushed the Mini down a highway before mercifully coming to a stop, according to Toronto’s CP24.
The driver of the Mini, 26-year-old Courtenay Erhardt, thankfully emerged from the incident self-reporting only “minor injuries.” The driver of the dump truck was unharmed.
The initial collision happened on an on ramp to Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway. Erhardt says the dump truck struck her Mini from behind, spinning the hatchback perpendicular in front of the truck. The truck’s driver apparently couldn’t see any of this, and kept on accelerating onto the highway’s rightmost lane, where the Mini was pinned against the truck itself and the highway barrier. The car stayed in this position for 700 meters, authorities say.
It wasn’t until another vehicle pulled up alongside the helpless Mini, called 911 and somehow signaled the truck driver to stop that the truck, indeed, stopped.
“I just remember holding my horn, and my steering wheel, just screaming, just like bawling and screaming and I honestly just thought I was gonna die,” Erhardt said. “I just didn’t know if my mini was gonna flip, or if I was gonna veer out into oncoming traffic on the Gardiner.
Distraught, the young woman said she started to pray that the truck driver would realize what was happening.
Thankfully, she made eye contact with a couple who pulled up alongside her vehicle.
“They pulled out in front and saw me and just saw me bawling and then called 911 right away, and then pulled up to stop the truck,” she said. “Once the truck stopped, I was frozen, I couldn’t get out of the car and they got me out and brought me to safety on the side of the road.”
The truck driver reportedly didn’t realize any of this was unfolding until it was all over. Toronto police have charged the truck driver “with several driving and commercial motor vehicle offences,” according to CP24.
No explanation has been provided for why the truck driver missed the Mini — perhaps the driver briefly turned their head when the contact happened. Even then, they evidently didn’t feel the thunk, and it’s clear from the overhead video that all the smoke and debris flew below and to the far side of the truck, rather than in front of the windshield where it would have been more obvious to the driver that something was gravely wrong.
I’ve never driven any commercial vehicle of this scale, so I’ll ask those of you who have experience operating such machinery: How easy is it to miss something like this? Regrettably, because certain individuals on the internet must take the contrarian role in every scenario — even when such a position advocates vehicular manslaughter — some onlookers have already blamed the Mini driver for cutting off the dump truck, though no such evidence exists. Even if it did, you don’t willfully plow a car down a highway in response. That’s something you don’t do.