He was driving along the 401 when a pile of snow broke his windshield. So what happened?

Weiguo Cao was driving from Toronto to London Saturday night when he says a plow driving over a bridge pushed snow and ice onto his car as it was passing underneath.

Weiguo Cao says he was driving near Ingersoll when a plow pushed snow from an overpass onto his car

Weiguo Cao says he feels lucky to be alive after a plow operator dumped a heavy load of snow and ice onto his car while he was driving along the 401 Saturday night. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC)

A London man says he left with rattled nerves and a broken windshield after a plow operator pushed heavy snow and ice onto his vehicle from an overpass, while he was driving underneath.

The incident happened Saturday night around 8:11 p.m. near Ingersoll. Weiguo Cao and his wife were driving home from Toronto on Highway 401.

Cao says he was driving underneath the Culloden Road overpass when a plow above dumped snow and ice directly onto his car, breaking the windshield and damaging the front end of the vehicle.

"Luckily we survived," said Cao, who added that he was in the right-hand lane, and had been driving slowly because of the wintery conditions.

Cao and his wife managed to pull over and called police. They were able to get a ride with a tow truck driver into Dorchester. From there, the couple took a taxi the rest of the way to London.

It was a restless night, Cao said.

"After getting home, we were not able to get sleep because we were scared," he said.

Although he is not sure how much of the car's damage will be covered by insurance, Cao says that isn't his main concern.

"The money's not important. The safety is," he said. "This time I'm lucky and didn't suffer so much from the accident, but they could kill people."


Cao says the incident left him with a broken windshield and damage to the front end of his vehicle. (Submitted by Weiguo Cao)

Just who is responsible for the snow dump remains unclear. 

Ontario's Ministry of Transportation (MTO) says Oxford County is responsible for plowing Culloden Road, including the overpass, while MTO's contractor is responsible for the interchanges. 

But staff at Oxford County say it couldn't possibly have been one of its people driving the plow.

In an email statement, the county said it uses GPS to track its plows. The county said tracking records show it didn't have any plows going over the Culloden Road bridge between 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. on Saturday. 

The next Oxford County plow that passed over the bridge wasn't until 8:45 p.m.—more than a half hour after Cao's dash cam captured the incident.

The county driver arrived to find that the bridge had already been plowed, said Frank Gross, the county's manager of transportation and waste management.

Gross said it could have been a MTO contractor, or a plow coming from a nearby town.

"Town of Ingersoll staff, when they're clearing town roads, will use that route and cross the bridge and then turn around and come back," he said. "We know there's an overlap of the three services there."


Gross said the snow dump could also have been caused by vibrations on the bridge from traffic or heavy equipment, which shook the snow loose.

In an email statement to CBC News, the Ministry of Transportation​ said it will review the incident to determine whether a maintenance contractor caused the incident. The ministry said it will also ensure that procedures are followed by contractors and county staff to prevent similar events from happening in the future. 

Although this incident is rare for Oxford County, OPP Const. Stacey Culbert said it could be another reason to be cautious during winter conditions.

"Have a look if you see those plows passing overhead, maybe give yourself a little extra time," she said.