Truck driver hailed as a hero for preventing crashes on Hwy. 401 after suffering fatal heart attack
KINGSTON -- A Windsor-area truck driver is being hailed a hero, after he suffered a fatal heart attack on Highway 401 outside of Kingston and managed to prevent a collision.
Frontenac Ontario Provincial Police confirm to CTV News Ottawa that on Friday, Oct. 23 at about 4:30 p.m., a truck driver heading westbound suffered a medical emergency and left the side of the road. The truck was travelling on Hwy. 401, west of the Gardiners Road exit.
Holly Matte said her father, 71-year-old Gary Demars, suffered a heart attack while working as a car-hauler. She says the OPP told her that witnesses saw his truck begin to pull to the side of the road without any signaling or breaking.
"They seen him veer his truck, which was carrying a bunch of cars, into a swampy area, and immediately those witnesses knew there was something wrong," Matte explains. "And they called 911."
In an interview with CTV News Ottawa from her parent's home in Comber, Ont., just outside of Windsor, Matte says she found out from OPP officers that night.
"Police told us that that my dad was truly a hero that night because he saved countless lives," she explains. "He managed to get that truck without hurting anyone, without causing an accident."
Ontario Provincial Police spokesperson Bill Dickson declined to officially comment on the collision, but in a statement said:
"The fact that the transport gradually moved right and into the ditch, rather that into the median, may have prevented other vehicles from being involved."
Matte says that her dad would think of others during a time of crisis, was just like him. The 31-year-old says he would travel that stretch of highway on a weekly basis.
"He knew had to get that truck to safety, he knew that there were multiple families on that road that day, and he knew he had to do that one last thing before he passed," Matte said.
Demars was married to his wife Josie for 44-years. He passed away just three days before his 72nd birthday.
"He didn’t get the opportunity to come home. But I’m so proud of him."
A GoFundMe Page has been set up for Josie Demars. She has been unable to work for the last decade, and the family hopes to help with funeral costs and future living expenses.
Donations to the Children’s Wish Foundation are also being requested, because Matte says above all Demars loved his grandchildren and his four children.
“This is something we should be proud of, and the fact that we’ve had all this time, it’s now time for him to go home to be with my brother that passed,” she says. “It’s my brothers turn to have my dad.”