Family of man left in coma after Gardiner crash pleads for outstanding driver to come forward
Rachael D'Amore, CTV Toronto
Published Wednesday, January 18, 2017 3:40PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 18, 2017 7:15PM EST
The family of a young man who was left in a coma following a devastating three-car crash on the Gardiner Expressway made a public plea for the outstanding driver to come forward on Wednesday.
Dante Racioppo was a passenger in an Acura travelling east on the Gardiner Expressway in the early morning hours of Jan. 3 when it was rear-ended by a Mercedes-Benz SUV.
The impact caused the Acura’s engine to fail, leaving it “like a sitting duck” on the expressway, police said.
As the Acura briefly sat idle, it was struck a second time by an oncoming airport limo.
The driver of the Mercedes left the scene and is currently sought by police on charges of failing to remain at the scene of a collision.
A total of six people were taken to hospital following the crash, including 24-year-old Racioppo, who remains at St. Michael’s Hospital in a medically-induced coma.
“He had two or three fractured ribs, which punctured a lung. He had both lungs collapse… a lot of damage to his lungs. His abdomen was basically crushed, his bowels were crushed, and he had a lot of internal bleeding,” the victim’s father, Silvanno Racioppo, told CTV News Toronto.
Initially, the Racioppo family said they thought their son was in hospital with “cuts and bruises” but were shocked to see his state in hospital.
“It was heart-wrenching,” Lianne Racioppo, Dante’s mother, said.
“I couldn’t believe I was looking at my son, that I had just seen earlier. (He was) vital and cheerful.”
Though Racioppo is slowly making progress at St. Mikes, his family said doctors are not yet sure what kind of damage has been done to his brain.
The driver of the Acura also remains in critical condition.
Lianne said the family is thankful he didn't severely injure his right hand in the accident, as Dante "plays the piano beautifully" and has a knack for painting.
"Our emotions went from the fear that he wasn't going to survive, to bracing ourselves to what we may get when he wakes up," his father said.
"Are we going to get the same Dante that we had before? Or is Dante even there?"
Despite some tips from the public, investigators said they still haven’t been able to locate the outstanding driver.
“We’re hoping that it weighs not only on the driver’s conscience but also on the people around them,” Racioppo said.
“Whether it’s the repair shop – he might have brought the vehicle into get repairs – or a neighbour, a family member… there has to be somebody who is aware of a Mercedes of that description that has some damage on it.”
The vehicle has been described as a silver 2007-2009 Mercedes-Benz GL SUV.
The family believes if the Mercedes remained at the scene, the driver could have turned on their hazard lights to potentially prevent the airport limo from striking the Acura a second time.
"I don't think that person realizes the consequences of that decision," Racioppo said.
"All we ask is that they do the right thing and come forward and account for what they have done."
Anyone with information is being asked to call Toronto police.