A 29-year-old Barrie woman is fighting for her life in hospital after her vehicle was struck by a flying tire on Highway 400 on Wednesday morning.
It’s not the first time a flying tire has led to tragedy on Ontario roadways. Flying tires have claimed several lives over the years, while some were lucky enough to escape without serious injury.
Here’s a look at several past incidents CityNews has covered:
Headline: Woman killed by flying truck tire
Date: Oct. 16, 2006
Location: Westbound lanes of Highway 8 near Kitchener
What happened: A cube van was travelling westbound when it suddenly lost two tires. One of the tires bounced over a guardrail and into the eastbound lanes, hitting a compact car being driven by a woman. The impact killed her.
Date: Oct. 11, 2007
Location: Eastbound Gardiner Expressway near Kipling Avenue
What happened: Cab driver Darshan Phangura was taking a customer to a destination on the eastbound Gardiner near Kipling when a wheel snapped off a truck on the westbound side of the highway, bounced over the guardrail and headed straight into the path of his car. “I thought I was going to die here,” he said. “It’s going to hurt me very bad … but it hit a little bit low.” Luckily, no one was seriously injured.
Date: Sept. 26, 2008
Location: Hwy. 401 near Keele Street
What happened: A tractor-trailer suddenly lost a wheel as it was traveling down the busy highway. The tire flew from the collector lanes into the express but somehow didn’t hit any vehicles. But it still had an impact — leading to a five-car collision caused when drivers tried to steer out of the way of the unexpected object and wound up hitting each other. All injuries were minor.
Headline: Car hit by flying tire on 401
Date: Oct. 15, 2009
Location: Westbound collector lanes of Hwy. 401
What happened: A tire flew off a Ford Escape, crossing into oncoming traffic and slamming into the windshield of driver John Lee’s car. The damage to the vehicle was extensive — but Lee was incredibly lucky, escaping with only a minor shoulder injury.
“The tire just came flying at me,” he told CityNews.”I saw it coming and I didn’t want to swerve and smash into another car and have a big car pile-up. So I just slowed down and moved over.”
Date: June 19, 2009
Location: Westbound Highway 401 near Yonge Street.
What happened: Truck driver Guy Orphanos was on his way to Cambridge when a huge tire from the opposite lane of traffic came flying straight towards him. It hit his rig at a high rate of speed and embedded itself into the driver’s side windshield, stopping just inches from his head after hitting the steering wheel and the sun visor. Incredibly, Orphanos suffered only minor cuts and bruises from flying glass.
Date: Dec. 22, 2011
Location: Toronto-bound QEW near North Shore Boulevard East.
What happened: Mother of three, Miroslawa Chmielewski, 53, was on her way to work around 6:45 a.m. when a truck wheel hit her car and forced her into a ditch near North Shore Boulevard East. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Her husband of 29 years was devastated by the news.
“This was my best friend,” Marek Chmielewski told reporters.
Date: May 28, 2012
Location: Northbound lanes of Hwy. 400 in Barrie
What happened: A black SUV was travelling southbound on the 400 when its tire suddenly came loose, bouncing across the median and striking the windshield of a van heading northbound, killing the driver.
Date: Oct. 16, 2012
Location: Eastbound QEW near Centennial Parkway in Hamilton
What happened: Meghan O’Halloran-Black, 20, was killed when a tire came loose from a pickup truck, bounced over the median, and struck her car while she was driving on the QEW eastbound in Hamilton.
Date: Oct. 24, 2012
Location: QEW at Fifty Road in Stoney Creek
What happened: Jolene Convery Cepic was lucky to survive after a tire flew off a jeep and smashed into her windshield while she was driving on the QEW in Stoney Creek. She may have escaped physical injury, but the incident took a psychological toll.
“I can smell the rubber still,” she told CityNews after surviving the harrowing incident.
Date: June 20, 2013
Location: Southbound DVP near the Bloor Viaduct
What happened: Two drivers were lucky to escape uninjured after a flying truck tire struck their cars on the Don Valley Parkway. Police told CityNews a gravel truck was heading southbound on the DVP near the Bloor Viaduct when two of its tires flew off. One of the tires bounced into the northbound lanes, smashing into a black BMW and a Porsche. Despite heavy damage to both vehicles, no one was injured.
Date: Mar 16, 2013
Location: Westbound Hwy. 401 near Leslie Street
What happened: A Toronto couple was heading westbound on Hwy. 401 when a tire flew off a pickup truck and smashed into their car. Both escaped with minor injuries. The daughter of the couple told CityNews that her father worried about just such a thing happening. “He’s always been afraid of that happening – with tires flying off,” Karen Pitt told CityNews. “He talked about it before and he was always afraid that would happen on the highway, so it’s kind of weird that this actually happened.” The driver of the truck, Trevor March of Bradford, was charged under the Highway Traffic Act for operation of an unsafe vehicle.
Date: Sept. 18, 2015
Location: Meadowvale Boulevard near Derry and Mississauga roads
What happened: Diane Tsialtas, who survived the 2013 Boston marathon bombings, was taking an early morning walk when two tires flew off a dump truck, with one of them striking her. She was airlifted to hospital with critical injuries and would later die of her injuries
Date: April 7, 2014
Location: Hwy. 401 eastbound near Leslie Street
What happened: A CityNews viewer captured a terrifying scene on his dash-cam. The video shows a truck wobbling, before the tires burst and roll across the eastbound lanes. No injuries were reported.
Date: Jan. 29, 2016
Location: Highway 400 north of Toronto
What happened: Paul Philip Koenderman, the former CEO of Aecon Industrial Group, was killed Wednesday when his SUV was hit by wheel that flew off a truck on Highway 400. The OPP said a southbound tractor-trailer lost a set of tandem tires from its right rear side and they bounced into the northbound lanes, hitting Koenderman’s SUV, causing him to lose control and drive into a ditch.
Date: July 12, 2017
Location: Hwy. 407 near Hwy. 27
What happened: Maria Albanese was driving on Hwy. 407 when a loose tire suddenly smashed into her windshield, shattering it. She managed to escape without serious injury but in an interview with Pam Seatle she described being traumatized. “I’m not holding up very well,” she said. “I’m just shaken, scared. I can’t get the visions out of my head … it’s nightmarish.”
Date: May 18, 2019
Location: Highway 400 at Highway 89
What happened: Provincial police say a white SUV was travelling southbound just after 11:30 a.m. when it lost a wheel. The wheel flew northbound and struck another vehicle in the northbound lanes. The male driver in the vehicle, believed to be in his 20s, suffered serious injuries to their head and internal organs and was airlifted by Ornge to Sunnybrook. A female passenger was taken to a local hospital in Barrie with minor injuries.