Toronto

'I didn't want him to be alone,' says woman who held Toronto van attack victim's hand as he died

A local shop manager, who held the hand of one of Toronto's van attack victims as he died, says she "didn't want him to be alone" — although they had never met before.

Chul Min (Eddie) Kang is among 10 people killed Monday after a van rammed pedestrians

Chul Min (Eddie) Kang died following seven minutes of horror on Yonge Street on Monday after a van mowed down pedestrians in north Toronto. (Facebook)

A local shop manager, who held the hand of one of Toronto's van attack victims as he died, says she "didn't want him to be alone" — although they had never met before. 

"I didn't want him to feel, like, empty," said Shanna Han, who works at NYX ECIGS, a vape store a few doors down from where the van mowed down pedestrians.  

Han stayed by Chul Min (Eddie) Kang's side while paramedics arrived. 

"I was trying to talk to him just to keep him alive … I was trying to get him to respond, but he didn't," she said. 

A photo of Kang was placed at a makeshift memorial in Olive Square Park for the victims in the van attack. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Kang is one of the latest victims to be identified after a van plowed into 24 pedestrians near a busy intersection on Monday. 

Kang's friends told CBC Toronto he worked as a chef at the Copacabana restaurant, a Brazilian steakhouse in the city's downtown, and had a wife in South Korea. 

He is among 10 people killed and 14 others injured after the van driver mounted the curb and barrelled down the sidewalk along Yonge Street. 

Video surveillance footage shows a white van driving down a sidewalk in north Toronto before crashing into pedestrians. 0:07

Han said she was working that afternoon when she felt the floors shake and heard the windows rattle "like crazy." She looked up and recalls seeing a white van race by, just outside the shop's window. 

"Then I saw Eddie's body just collapse on the floor," she said. "My mind was blank and my instinct was to just run out to help him." 

Han held his hand, trying to find a pulse while they waited for help to arrive. 

"For a brief moment I actually thought he was going to be OK, because he was coughing and he was still breathing," she said. 

"I tried to be there for him for as long as I can. Just to give him that comfort, and I was letting him know that I'm going to see him in the hospital when he wakes up. But I know there was not much that I could do."

Shanna Han rushed to help Kang, who was lying on the sidewalk after being struck by the van that killed 10 people on Monday. (John Sandeman/CBC)

Kang never made it to the hospital, she said. He died on the sidewalk. 

"I would expect someone to give me that same comfort in my last moments, whether I knew them or not," said Han.

"I hope he didn't feel whatever pain he was going through, and hopefully he found peace." 

Police gather after the van driver deliberately ran down multiple pedestrians. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press)

Meanwhile, some two kilometres away, a Toronto police officer was apprehending the alleged driver, Alek Minassian. 

The rental van was stopped on the sidewalk, its front end damaged, when Const. Ken Lam pulled up beside it. 

Video of the tense arrest has attracted international attention for how Lam handled the man.

It was recorded by Clark Hua Zhang, who was driving back from the gym when he saw the van pull up along Poyntz Avenue, near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue West. 

The dramatic footage shows Lam confronting a man standing next to the vehicle. The driver's side door was open and the man's arm was outstretched, pointing a black object at the officer.

"The suspect looked like he had a gun in his hand, and he was waving it at the officer and saying, 'I have a gun,'" Asher Din told CBC Toronto. "The officer kept saying to him, 'Drop your weapon. Drop your weapon.'"

Lam did not fire. 

Instead, the traffic response officer holstered his gun and grabbed a baton as he took strides toward the man. The suspect tossed aside the object in his hand and lay down, where he was handcuffed.

The incident was over in 37 seconds. 

The non-violent arrest of the Toronto van attack suspect is being praised by many. Video taken by witnesses shows the suspect apparently pulling a gun when confronted by a lone police officer. The officer is seen to get the suspect to stand down, drop what he's holding, and make the arrest without incident. 5:07

Asher said he then rushed to help the officer. 

"He asked me to run over here and make sure there's nobody else hurt, there's no bodies, there's nothing going on," he said, noting he was unaware of what had just unfolded a few blocks north. 

"At first I couldn't believe it, because it's very impossible to believe that somebody would do such a horrific act." 

Minassian, 25, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Police have said a 14th count of attempted murder is expected. 

About the Author

Amara McLaughlin

Online reporter, CBC Toronto

Amara McLaughlin is a digital journalist at CBC Toronto. Originally from Alberta, she began her journalism career in Calgary but now calls Toronto home. Contact her at: amara.mclaughlin@cbc.ca.

With files from Ioanna Roumeliotis and Farrah Merali