Flying wheel from boat trailer strikes 3 vehicles on Ontario's QEW, leaves man dead

A flying wheel hit three cars on the Queen Elizabeth Way on Tuesday, leaving one man dead and closing a stretch of the highway for hours, police say.

Oakville man, 77, pronounced dead on scene; passenger uninjured

One man is dead after a flying wheel struck three vehicles on Tuesday. Witnesses reported seeing a tire and wheel assembly coming off a boat trailer being pulled by a pickup truck travelling westbound on the Queen Elizabeth Way near Winston Churchill Boulevard. (Christopher Langenzarde/CBC)

A flying wheel hit three cars on the Queen Elizabeth Way on Tuesday, leaving one man dead and closing a stretch of the the Toronto-area highway for hours, police say.

The 77-year-old from Oakville, Ont. was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, a 77-year-old woman, was unhurt but taken to hospital as a precaution.

The woman had to pull the vehicle over to the side of the road after the stray wheel crashed into the driver's side, according to Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police highway safety division.

Schmidt said the OPP first received a report of a collision on the QEW at 11:20 a.m.

Witnesses reported seeing a tire and wheel assembly coming off a boat trailer pulled by a pickup truck travelling westbound near Winston Churchill Boulevard.

The wheel bounced into the QEW's eastbound lanes, colliding with a white car carrying the two 77-year-olds, which was travelling at highway speed.

A 77-year-old man from Oakville, suffered fatal injuries after this vehicle was hit by a flying wheel. He was pronounced dead at the scene, while the vehicle's passenger, a woman, 77, was uninjured but taken to hospital as a precaution. (@OPP_HSD/Twitter)

"The tire continued bouncing down the highway, colliding with two more vehicles before it ended up getting wedged underneath the last vehicle and coming to its final rest," Schmidt said.

Police have since located the pickup truck driver and the boat trailer at a marina, and the driver has spoken to police, Schmidt said.

A 'tragic outcome'

Schmidt said investigators believe the wheel might have come loose due to a mechanical or installation error. The trailer has three axles and one of the wheels on one of the axles separated, he added.

The wheel, which hit the windshield and roof of the white car, caused an "incredible" amount of damage and destruction, Schmidt said. The damage to the other two vehicles was minimal, he said.

"For anyone driving down the highway, you're never going to expect to see something like this coming toward you, and by the time you realize it's on a collision course with you, you really have no time to respond," said Schmidt.

"There's really nothing a driver can do to react quickly enough to avoid a collision like this."

Schmidt said the boat trailer was only bought on Tuesday and the driver was taking it to a marina on its first trip in some time.

"Obviously, this is another reminder to anyone who is pulling equipment that doesn't get used very often, that is properly maintained, that is running properly. We know how quickly these things can deteriorate and end up in a situation like this," Schmidt said.

"You can see the tragic outcome behind me right now," he said.

All QEW eastbound lanes were closed at Ford Drive to allow police to investigate but were scheduled to reopen as of 4:15 p.m.

Emergency crews, along with officials from the Ontario Transportation Ministry, were at the scene. Police are also investigating the trailer at the marina, Schmidt said.

Burlington OPP are asking anyone with information to come forward.