A red hat. Batman shoes. Some small clothes. They don’t sound like the ingredients for one of the worst tragedies in recent memory. But they’re the tangible evidence of a terrible accident that happened on a busy street in Scarborough Wednesday night. It took place at McCowan near Eglinton just after 8:15pm, when a woman and her three year-old son left a local playground after enjoying a night of kite flying. It was too be their last happy moments together.
As the pair walked along the sidewalk, the unthinkable unfolded. A car ran off the road and straight into the duo. When the automobile came to a rest, 36-year-old Yan Zhang lay dead and her baby was in critical condition.
The boy remains in dire shape with his grieving and disbelieving father praying by his bedside at the Hospital for Sick Children. The youngster suffered a serious brain injury and a fractured leg and skull. Doctors still don’t know if he’ll make it. But it’s what cops contend caused the accident that’s left them infuriated and outraged. They arrested a 56-year-old man at the scene, charging him with impaired driving. Dragan Gorgijevski appeared in a Toronto courtroom on Thursday.
For veteran traffic officer Det. Paul Lobsinger, there are simply no words to express the anger he feels over the heartbreaking horror. “Would you like to face the father who is now at the hospital with this young child and tell them you are sorry for what’s happened?” he demands, the rage evident in his voice. “How far will sorry go?”
Lobsinger held up the little boy’s clothes, all that may be left of the normal life the baby knew for too short a time. “This is real evidence of a tragedy. A completely preventable tragedy,” he laments. “This is a life that has changed forever, this young child, changed forever. Can’t be changed back.”
Neighbours at Gorgijevski’s Toronto home don’t recall ever seeing the accused under the influence. “We’ve never seen him with a drink or loud, nothing,” confirms Sharon Zold.
The evidence of the disaster has long been towed from the scene, but there’s another reminder that’s far more poignant. A makeshift memorial now sits at the site, with flowers and cards of condolences in an ever expanding pile. Megan came here because she saw a similiarity with Zhang and knows it could have been anyone on that street corner. “To know she was exactly the same age as me and that could have been me,” she sighs, after emerging from some quiet contemplation. She’s just one of many friends, neighbours and strangers who have all come by to express their sorrow, 24 hours after an accident that all agree never should have been.