'I remember the rip of the pantyhose:' Good Samaritans reflect on North York van attack
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Monday, April 22, 2019 6:33PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 23, 2019 8:21PM EDT
A year ago today, two employees of the Toronto District School Board rushed to the aid of complete strangers who were left lying on the ground after being struck by a van in North York.
Roula Massin and Rob Little were casual acquaintances until April 23, 2018, when a white van mounted a curb and plowed down pedestrians along a sidewalk on Yonge Street. Ten people were killed and 16 others were injured.
“You hear the screaming and I looked and you see the bodies, you see them,” Massin said.
The pair are CPR trained and immediately tried to help administer first-aid until paramedics could arrive. Massin performed CPR on Dorothy Sewell, an 80-year-old grandmother who was struck by the van, but she died in her arms.
Speaking with CTV News Toronto after the attack last year, Massin said that she wanted Sewell’s family to know that she “went in peace.”
But for Massin, the last year has been anything but peaceful.
“Unfortunately I remember details,” she said. “I remember the rip of the pantyhose. I remember the images that give anxiety. I cannot say that on TV because it is not fair to let the family know what we saw.”
“They say time flies—time didn't fly this year. It was heavy, like me and Rob, when we talk we have pain inside, scars inside.”
For Little, it is the sounds more than the images that haunt him. As part of his therapy, he was tasked with writing a letter to 25-year-old Alek Minassian, who has been accused of driving the van.
“Obviously, it was not a letter to actually send to him in the mail,” Little said.
Minassian has been charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in connection with the investigation. His court case has been put over until early next month and his trial is expected to begin in February 2020.
Massin told CTV News Toronto that she feels a lot of anger towards the man who allegedly drove the van.
“I’m angry because the way they died,” she said. “It’s hard, when you see their bodies.”
There is one place where Massin said she is able to feel at peace – a memorial tree planted near the building where Sewell used to live.
And though they never met before the day of the attack, Massin feels like it is a place where she goes to see a friend.
“I have no idea, but when I come here … she is telling me Roula, I’m okay.”
With files from CTV News Toronto’s Austin Delaney