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‘Thanks to God, we are alive’: driver recounts narrow escape after highway plywood crash

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Just moments after watching a piece of plywood soar through the air and smash into her windshield, Jaspreet Sran stopped, stepped out of her car and assessed the damage.

“I started shivering,” said Sran from her Brampton home. “I realized ‘oh my god,’ this thing has happened.”

During the afternoon rush on a busy Toronto-area highway, Sran looked on in shock at the large piece of plywood sticking straight out of her windshield. One of its corners had pierced the glass and struck her in the arm.

The freak collision happened at around 4 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 410 near Queen Street East in Brampton.

A day later, Sran says she’s lucky to have escaped with only a few cuts and bruises.

“Thanks to God, we are alive,” she said. “That’s the most important thing.”

Jaspreet Sran, left, and Sukhpreet Dhillon, suffered minor cuts and bruises in the incident. (Joe Fiorino/CBC)

Plywood came off SUV trailer

Sran, who was driving with her mother-in-law and a family friend, remembers watching the plywood fly through the air for several seconds before it eventually landed on her Volkswagen Jetta.

She and her friend were covered in broken glass, and — in the back seat — her mother-in-law’s hand was cut.

Sran called police after stopping the car.

“When the call came in that there was a vehicle blocking a live lane that had a piece of wood that had gone through the windshield, you think the worst,” said Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police.

“This could have been so much worse,” he added.

Witnesses to the collision tell police the plywood came flying off a small utility trailer being towed by an SUV on the highway. Some reported the vehicle’s license plate, and officers later made contact with the owner.

Investigators are now working to determine who was driving at the time of the incident. The SUV did not stop at the scene.

No charges have been laid, Schmidt said, adding that the investigation is still ongoing.

Police are asking drivers to ensure any loads they carry are strapped and properly secured. (OPP)

‘If he knows, he has to stop’

Police said it’s not yet clear if the SUV driver knew the wood flew off the trailer at the time of the collision.

Schmidt says its possible the driver was just returning from a quick trip to a lumber yard, and failed to properly secure the load.

In windy conditions, even a small bump on the highway can send a large object flying, he said.

Schmidt is hoping the incident reminds drivers to be extra cautious when transporting potentially dangerous objects.

Sran is waiting to find out how much the driver knew.

“I feel like maybe he doesn’t know that something was flying from his truck,” she said. “If he knows he has to stop, at least for help.”

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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