Monday, 22 December 2014

Sunday Morning Crash on the Gardiner Expressway

At 5 am on Sunday morning, I was driving home from Etobicoke-Queensway.  I had stopped for a tea at Park Lawn before hitting the road to get home when I decided to go south and take Lakeshore across the city then hop on the Gardiner at the Jarvis on-ramp.

Just past Humber Loop, I approached a purple car going about 35-40 kph in the passing lane.  It looked like a 90's Cavalier or Saturn - I wasn't paying close enough attention.  There were no other vehicles on the road. This is why it was so memorable.  I passed that purple vehicle going the limit while in the middle lane.  I think it was at this moment that I put a target on my head.

After passing, the driver decided to accelerate and pass me.  The car then settled directly in front of me, swerving in the lane.  I lowered my speed and stayed back so I could keep an eye on it.  I wanted to call the police to report that this driver was intoxicated, but my phone was turned off inside my purse in the back seat. I decided to follow with caution.

The driver alternated between slowing to below 30 kph to force me to pass, and speeding up and swerving in front of me.  I weighed my options, considering alternate routes as they approached but decided to stay the course to Jarvis.  Any streets north to the Gardiner would put me in a dangerous residential neighbourhood.  At least Lakeshore was wide, well-lit, and had few lights.

The car was tracking behind to my left when I caught a red light at Bathurst St.  It then crept forward and stopped directly to my right.  The southwest corner of Lakeshore and Bathurst is brightly lit with a gas station there, but I chose not to look over.  I did not want to make eye contact.  I did not know if this person was following me.  I let out an audible sigh of relief when the driver then signaled to turn right, and slowly rolled into the crossing, and held my breath at it stopped, cancelled the signal, and reversed until it was once again just to my right.  All this while stopped at the light was red.  All this while I plotted my next steps.

The Jarvis on-ramp would be from the right lane, the purple car's current lane.  I decided that when the light turned green, I would switch to the leftmost lane to avoid being near the intoxicated driver, accelerate quickly so I could gain distance, then switch back over to the right lane in time for the on-ramp. I was ready.

In moments, the light changed.  I crossed the intersection.  I switched into the leftmost lane. I caught green lights and gained a good distance ahead of the purple car.  I could not see it in my rearview.  I was almost home free, when I hit a red light at Jarvis St, right in front of the on-ramp.

Disappointed, I stopped and while stopped I could see the headlights of the purple car reappear in my rearview and approach from a distance. I sat at the red light and watched it pull right up to my rear bumper.  If I crept one inch forward, the purple car crept one inch forward. The driver was mocking me. Regretting the missed opportunity at Bathurst, I glared at my rearview mirror now desperately trying to get a good clear look at the face of this intoxicated driver who had been following me for the last 11 km, but all I could see was outline of a head through the accumulation of dirt on both of our vehicles windows and shadows cast by his headlights.

If the driver exited his/her vehicle, I decided that I would run the red light. Otherwise, I would wait. Either way, I'd soon be on the highway, where there were other cars, and mine was faster.

We waited.  The light turned green, and I gunned for that on-ramp.  The driver followed but couldn't keep pace. I gained a good distance and kept an eye on the purple car in my rearview mirror.  Without fail, there it was gaining speed, approaching me.

I began to plot my next move.  If I didn't lose the purple car on my way home, instead of leading the driver right to my place, I would circle the DVP-northbound, 401-westbound, 427-southbound, then Gardiner-eastbound until I did.  I was mid-thought, when the driver suddenly lost control and collided with the middle guardrail, sending sparks flying.  The vehicle was then propelled forward from the impact, and rolled backward across the expressway to the furthest right lane where it came to a stop.

In shock, I continued driving.  My first instinct was to turn back and help, but I was on the highway just ahead of the crash so I couldn't.  My next instinct was to report the collision, but I didn't want to risk diverting my attention from the road to get my phone, turn it on, and connect the Bluetooth.  My final instinct was to stay the course because that vehicle may have still been drivable, that driver may have still been conscious, and I had no reason to believe that the pursuit was over.

...but it was.  With focus, I completed my route and arrived home safely, uncomfortably recalling what I had just witnessed, and knowing what it was that I had just narrowly dodged.
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