Monday, October 19, 2009

Alcohol suspected in high-speed crash that killed 3

Three people are dead after a BMW with a suspected drunk driver at the wheel crashed into a minivan on Finch Ave. W. at Tobermory Dr. (Oct. 17, 2009) DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR

Published On Sun Oct 18 2009

(Posted by CAAI News Media)

A family originally from Cambodia was returning home from temple late Saturday when a BMW, going up to 200 km/h with a suspected drunk driver at the wheel, hurtled into their minivan, cracking it in half and killing three people.

Hon To, 44, and her 24-year-old daughter Khan (Christine) Taing were pronounced dead at the scene of the horrific crash just before midnight on Finch Ave. W. at Tobermory Dr., said family member Yun Ho.

Taing was studying nursing at the University of Toronto, he added.

The other minivan passenger pronounced dead at the scene was a female family friend and fellow worshipper about to be dropped off at her home, Ho said.

To's husband, Pho Taing, 43, is in hospital in critical condition, as is a fifth passenger of the Honda Odyssey, a woman. Police said this afternoon that one of them is in "grave" condition while the other suffered less serious injuries, but wouldn't identify them.

The three dead were all thrown from the cracked-open minivan. Traffic officers were stunned by the wreckage, saying it's the kind of destruction seen occasionally on highways but not on a Toronto street. The van was turning when it was hit.

Jenny To, a friend of the 24-year-old victim, told the Star this afternoon that Taing was a "social butterfly."

"Any time we felt lonely we would call each other," she said.

The 21-year-old driver of the BMW suffered non-life-threatening injuries and is in police custody in hospital. Police say he will be charged in the crash.

Moments before the impact, the westbound BMW flew past a police cruiser heading east on Finch, said Sgt. Tim Burrows of Traffic Services. The officers witnessed the crash in their rear view mirror, he added.

The BMW was "out of control" and continued about 100 metres after smashing the minivan in two, Burrows said.

Police believe the BMW's driver had been drinking. The man has been investigated for drinking and driving in the past, Burrows said, though he could not confirm any prior convictions.

"All in all, this was an absolutely atrocious night on our roadways," Burrows said, adding that at least half a dozen other drivers were arrested for drinking and driving offences.

"Drinking and driving is a no-brain issue," Burrows said. "Once you've added alcohol to your system, driving should be out of the equation."

This afternoon, the front of the minivan lay on grass between the sidewalk and road, wires and metal protruding from its open end. Firefighters cut one piece of the van apart, removing its contents.

Finch was closed between Sentinel Rd. and Driftwood Ave. as police investigated.

With files from Stephen Smysnuik and The Canadian Press

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