Toronto driver who hit young streetcar rider wants to say sorry

A Toronto driver charged with careless driving after allegedly hitting a girl who stepped off a streetcar in Regent Park wants to apologize for his actions.

Police say driver failed to stop after girl stepped off TTC streetcar but injuries not serious

A girl believed to be about 12 years old suffered no broken bones when she was struck by a car after stepping off a streetcar on March 25. She was struck near Dundas Street East and Parliament. (CBC)

A Toronto driver charged with careless driving after allegedly hitting a girl who stepped off a streetcar in Regent Park wants to apologize for his actions.

"A moment of inattention caused a lot of pain," he said. "I hope the family calls me. I would really like to talk to her and let her know that I'm truly sorry."

Toronto police say the girl was taken to hospital but suffered no serious injuries from the March 25 accident. The girl, believed to be about 12, had stepped off the stopped streetcar through the rear doors when she was hit at about 12:24 p.m. The streetcar, eastbound on Dundas Street East, was west of Parliament.

The driver, a father of three children, told CBC News there is something to learn from the accident and he would like to urge the Toronto Transit Commission to remind riders to watch for vehicles, to pay attention when getting on and off and not to use cellphones when doing so. CBC News is not identifying the man because it agreed to conceal his identity.

"The streetcars, I've never liked them. As a driver, you always want to pass it and get ahead of it because you don't want to deal with any issues. But sometimes they stop abruptly and the doors just swing open and people just run out."

The man, who calls himself a pedestrian and a driver and a "person who cares," said the incident happened quickly as he was driving eastbound on Dundas Street East in the curb lane. He was on his way to see his children.

He said he didn't see the streetcar.

'I've never hit anyone'

"For a moment, something caught my eye on the sidewalk.  I don't know what it is exactly but I turned my head for just a moment, and when I looked ahead again, there was somebody in front of my car. And I hit my brakes immediately and I swerved. But the person hit my car, hit my windshield and they bounced off," he said.

He said at that point, he noticed the TTC streetcar and the girl sitting on the ground. The girl got up.

"She was in shock. I could tell she was trying to understand what happened. Everybody rushed towards her and they had her sit on the steps of the streetcar. I got out of my car and I was panicking and I was just, 'Are you ok, are you ok? I'm so sorry. I don't know what happened.' I was just like freaking out. I didn't know what to think because I've never hit anyone. I've never been in an accident. "

A bystander with medical training checked the girl and the driver was told by others not to leave the scene. He didn't. The girl was taken to hospital in an ambulance. A paramedic asked him if he was all right. Toronto police arrived, he was told to go into the streetcar to speak to police and he gave a statement.

"There were a lot of witnesses," he said.

He waited in the streetcar and was told an hour later that she was in stable condition. He was allowed to drive home more than four hours later. 

'Drivers get distracted all the time'

"Honestly, I don't blame anybody for being angry. I would be angry because I have a daughter around the same age as the girl," he said, "It's just one of those moments where it just happened in a second or two."

He read about the accident in an online story and responded in a comment. "I don't want people to think that it was out of malice or carelessness," he said. 

"It could have been avoided, yes. But some things just can't be avoided, no matter how many safety measures you take."

"Everyone has a moment where they are not paying attention. Drivers get distracted all the time and cars are dangerous. They're big heavy machines that can easily kill someone."

Since the accident, he said he keeps getting flashbacks and feels haunted by the accident. 

"I'm still trying to cope with all this. I haven't been able to eat properly. I don't even know if I can drive my car. I haven't sat in it since I got it home. I'm probably going to sell because it will remind me," he said.

"Everybody makes mistakes."

He said it's important to make amends and to learn something from it, but he plans to fight the careless driving charge.