Family, classmates mourn the loss of Humber student killed in QEW crash
Codi Wilson, CP24.com
Published Thursday, February 8, 2018 7:21AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 8, 2018 6:41PM EST
The cousin of a 22-year-old college student killed in a chain-reaction crash on the QEW in Mississauga last month said she hopes other drivers learn from the tragedy.
The multi-vehicle crash occurred in the Toronto-bound lanes of the highway near Cawthra Road in Mississauga at around 10 p.m. on Jan. 27.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday morning, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the male driver of a vehicle on the highway stopped unexpectedly and caused five vehicles behind him to collide.
The driver of the vehicle who was allegedly responsible for the crash fled the scene, Schmidt said.
Seven people were rushed to hospital, including two women who suffered critical injuries.
One of the women, identified as 22-year-old Niagara Falls resident Nicole Turcotte, later died in hospital.
Schmidt previously said that road rage may have been a factor in the crash but on Thursday, he would not comment on whether that information had been confirmed by investigators.
After tips from the public, Schmidt said a suspect was identified and late Wednesday night, he surrendered to police.
He has been identified by investigators as 32-year-old Yasir Baig, of Mississauga.
Baig has been charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death, dangerous operation of a vehicle causing harm, failing to remain at the scene of a collision causing death, and failing to remain at the scene of a collision causing harm.
He appeared in court for a bail hearing today where an interpreter spoke on his behalf.
Baig was ultimately granted $52,000 bail, which was paid by his wife and mother-in-law. Both cried as they answered questions about the bail in court.
As part of the bail conditions, Baig has been banned from driving and was forced to surrender his license. He was also ordered not to sit in a driver’s seat of a vehicle at any time nor possess any keys to a motor vehicle.
A CTV News Toronto reporter inside the courtroom said the victim’s family started crying audibly when Turcotte’s name was read aloud by the judge.
Baigs friend and co-worker Ali Mir was in the car on the night of the crash. He told reporters outside the courtroom Thursday that contrary to what police have previously said, this was not a case of road rage.
“The behind car was flashing the lights so he was just confused and he got reflection in his eyes so he just slowed down the car,” Mir said.
None of the charges have been proven in court.
Victim was Humber College photography student
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Turcotte’s cousin, Brandy Sommer Wood, said Turcotte was in her final semester in the photography program at Humber College.
She said when the crash occurred, Turcotte and her boyfriend were on their way home from Niagara Falls after visiting a sick family member.
“They just started living together and building a life together,” Sommer Wood said of Turcotte and her boyfriend. “It is devastating to him and his family too.”
Sommer Wood described her cousin as “loving” and “grateful for everything she had in life.”
“My aunt called her shy but her friends know her in a different way. She was just coming out of her shell,” Turcotte’s cousin said.
“She was just becoming the woman she was meant to be and that was taken from her. She was so loving. She gave her time to the community through church volunteering. She was just so wonderful.”
Sommer Wood said Turcotte’s mother is “beside herself with grief.”
“They weren’t just mother and daughter, they were best friends and her grief is beyond what words can say,” she added.
Sommer Wood said her cousin’s classmates at Humber College are also devastated by the loss and administrators are planning a tribute to Turcotte at this year’s graduation ceremony.
She said she hopes this collision sends a message to other drivers to be more cautious on the roads.
“This is tragedy that could have been avoided had somebody been more thoughtful and careful on the roads. It only takes a minute of stupidity to lose a life,” she said.
“I hope I never have to meet another mother that had to go through this.”
She noted that the other person critically injured in the crash, identified by police as a 19-year-old woman, has a “long road ahead” in her recovery.
Sommer Wood thanked members of the public for their assistance in the case.
“Thank you to everybody, from the people who came in for interviews, called in for tips (to) people that were at the scene… It has been only because of the news and because of the people that have come forward that this is possible to give us some closure.”