Montreal driver nearly killed after steel rod pierces her windshield
Barrier wall was so low workers were able to step over it, higher protective wall has been added since
A Montreal driver who was nearly killed when a metal rod flew from a construction site and pierced her windshield is wondering why no one is facing consequences for the incident.
SigalKarasik sat down with CBC'sDaybreak Montreal host Mike Finnerty to explain what happened the day she was nearly impaled.
I had glass shards in my eyes… in my hair, all over me even in my mouth.- Sigal Karasik
Karasik was driving east on Saint-Jacques Street one afternoon in November, passing beside the Turcot Interchange construction site, near the corner of Saint-Rémi Street, when she suddenly heard a loud noise.
"I was paralyzed for a good half a minute and then all I saw was this huge hole in the windshield directly where my face is. Right in front of my face — a hole — in the windshield," she said.
"I started to look around in the car to try to figure out what happened and I noticed to my right, there was a big iron rod."
Once she realized what happened, Karasik pulled over and flagged down the construction workers.
She said the protective barrier separating the construction site from the road was so low that the workers were able to step right over it when she waved to them.
"They saw my car and that's when they all started to go — woah — this is serious"
You can't play with people's lives like that, due to incomplete plans. - Sigal Karasik
Karasik called 911 and was taken to hospital.
She said it wasn't until she was in the emergency room that she realized she was hurt.
"My hands were cut up … there was blood all over my hands. I had glass everywhere," she said.
"My jacket was ripped up, I had glass shards in my eyes … in my hair, all over me even in my mouth."
Karasik said she still can't believe how close the rod came to killing her.
"One thing that I don't understand is that I'm still alive," she said, choking back tears.
"The hole was directly in front of my face and for some reason it landed right beside me and not in my head."
Steel rod wasn't in the plans
Following the incident, the contractor — L.A. Hébert — suspended work and the Transport Ministry closed the site for a few days to review what happened.
Transport Quebec spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun said it turns out a piece of reinforcing steel — also known as rebar — was embedded in the pavement that crews had been dismantling with a hydraulic hammer.
The force of the hammer was so great that the rebar came loose and was propelled into traffic.
Bensadoun said the construction crews didn't know the rebar was there, because the original plans they were relying on didn't list it.
It turns out the metal reinforcement steel was only added later, during maintenance work.
Karasik can't accept that explanation.
"It's a big company. It's a big project. Incomplete plans? You can't play with people's lives like that, due to incomplete plans," she said.
Higher protection barriers recommended
Quebec's workplace health and safety board (CSST) visited the work site following the incident and released a report recommending a correction to the work site. Specifically, it suggested installing a higher barrier wall to protect traffic from the construction.
It's not an incident that you can just say 'Oops, we'll put up a higher wall' and that's it."- Sigal Karasik
That wall has since been added, along with other measures, including changes to the way workers are dismantling the pavement.
No one has been penalized or fined for the incident.
The process to lay fines can take up to a year and while a spokesperson for the CSST would not confirm whether there will be any penalties, she said it is possible.
"It's not a light accident," Karasik said. "It's not an incident that you can just say 'Oops, we'll put up a higher wall' and that's it."
Transport Quebec says measures were 'adequate'
Sarah Bensadoun, a spokesperson for Transport Quebec, said the measures the contractor had in place before the incident were "adequate" but said they're always open to suggestions to improve safety even more.
She said they take the incident "very seriously."
"We're talking about security for road users. It could've been very dangerous, especially for the driver," Bensadoun said.