A man drove a white van onto the sidewalk along Toronto’s main thoroughfare in two locations Monday and struck multiple people before police stopped the vehicle and took its driver into custody, authorities and witnesses said.
The van struck a man crossing Yonge Street, the city’s main road, before it jumped the curb near Mel Lastman Square, a civic square and complex, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Eight to 10 people were hit, police said, and some were feared dead.
Images posted on social media appeared to show bodies lying on a broad, tree-lined sidewalk near a pedestrian plaza, and some of them appeared to have been covered with blankets. Several witnesses said the debris left by the crash included a child’s stroller.
One driver, who identified himself as Ali, said the van mowed down everything in its path: pedestrians, mailboxes, electrical poles, benches and a fire hydrant.
“One by one, one by one,” he said, describing the pedestrians being struck. “Holy God, I’ve never seen such a sight before. I feel sick.”
Meaghan Gray, a spokeswoman for the Toronto police, said authorities received a report at 1:30 p.m. Monday that a white van had mounted the curb near Yonge Street and Finch Avenue West. The driver was in custody roughly 90 minutes later, she said.
Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu, another police spokeswoman, said that authorities did not know “the cause or reason for the collision.”
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto said it had received seven patients from the scene.
Videos from bystanders aired on CP24, a Toronto cable news channel, appeared to show the arrest of the van driver, a balding middle aged man standing beside an extensively damaged white Ryder rental van.
He appeared to be locked in a brief standoff with the police and is pointing an object at them. Videos showed the man quickly dropping the object in his hand and being arrested.
The van was stopped about a mile south of where the episode took place, said Dan Fox, a civil servant who passed the vehicle on his way to work Monday. He said there was “significant damage to the side of the van.”