Toronto

Distracted driver hits Toronto actor, appears to drive away from scene while on phone

A Toronto actor says he’s disappointed and frustrated after a distracted driver hit him with her vehicle and appeared to be on her phone again when driving away from the scene.

Caught, Bellevue actor Billy MacLellan captures incident on motorcycle using GoPro

Toronto actor Billy MacLellan says a distracted driver hit him and appeared to be on her phone again when driving away from the scene of the accident. (Darak Zdzienicki/CBC)

A Toronto actor says he's disappointed and frustrated after a distracted driver hit him with her vehicle and appeared to be on her phone again when driving away from the scene of the accident.

Billy MacLellan, who has appeared on several Canadian series, including CBC's Caught and Bellevue, says he was travelling north on Avenue Road on his motorcycle last month when he was hit by the driver, who appeared to be on her phone. MacLellan wasn't hurt and the motorist apologized profusely before driving off.

He caught the collision on his GoPro and says he was in disbelief that it even happened considering he was wearing a bright yellow jacket in broad daylight.

"When I drive, I try to do everything in my power to get home in one piece," he told CBC Toronto, adding that he already lost a cousin in a motorcycle accident in 2000.

"I didn't have a black leather jacket on. There wasn't too much more I could have been doing to do the right thing."

MacLellan felt the driver didn't quite understand how much worse the collision could have been.

GoPro footage shows the distracted driver colliding with actor Billy MacLellan. (Billy MacLellan/Facebook)

"I said to her at one point, 'You could have killed me,' because I felt like she wasn't taking it serious," he said. "She said, 'I swear on my life I'll never do it again.' And I believed her."

But by sheer coincidence, he caught up to her a few minutes later near Oriole Parkway and Eglinton Avenue and was shocked by what he saw.

"I'm driving beside her passenger window and she still doesn't recognize me because she hasn't looked up from her phone in about the last 40 seconds," he said. "I honked my horn at her and she dropped her phone like a hot potato." 

MacLellan says the woman then pulled up to his right to stick her head out her window to apologize once again.

"I was done by then because she was driving so close to me and in the same lane as me, I started to get a little bit worried," he said. "I didn't think something really bad was going to happen, but I was done. I was done."

Crash footage goes viral

He uploaded video of the incident on Facebook, where it racked up over 67,000 views and nearly 900 shares in less than a week.

"So many people online are saying, 'You've handled it so much better than I would have handled it,' but I wasn't angry. You could sort of hear it in my voice how disappointed I was."

Police say they are investigating the video and stress that distracted driving is dangerous.

"What a lot of people don't recognize is that using a cell phone is actually putting somebody's life at risk — maybe your own, maybe somebody else's. I think the video does show that," Const. Clint Stibbe of Toronto police's Traffic Services says.

The incident last month left MacLellan nervous to be on the roads but also more aware of distracted driving as a whole.
Billy MacLellan and his motorcycle survived the May crash relatively unscathed. (Darak Zdzienicki/CBC)

"One woman was more focused on the passenger seat than she was on her own driving," he said. "The thing that made me sad was that I could see from the back and the side that her rear car window was full of little stickers and beside a car seat."

MacLellan says he's lost count of how many times he has seen someone driving a car while on their phone with their child in the backseat. 

"If that was someone who had a beer or a bottle of rum with them, you could smash the window out, and throw away their keys and you'd be a hero," he said. "Because it's a phone, everyone is taking this dangerous thing and accepting it as that's just the way it is."

He says he hopes some good will come out of the incident with the distracted driver last month.

"I hope a few people realize how little has to go wrong," he said. "It's a matter of seconds and inches whether someone's going to get home at suppertime or whether they're not."

With files from Adrian Cheung and Farrah Merali

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