WOMAN DIES AFTER TRUCK TIRE SMASHES CAR
Joel Eastwood from Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 8:42AM EST
Last updated Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011 10:58PM EST
A Hamilton mother was killed on her drive to work early Thursday morning after a flying truck tire struck her car on the Queen Elizabeth Way. Miroslawa Chmielewski, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene after her car went off the Toronto-bound QEW near the Burlington Skyway. Ontario Provincial Police said the truck tire bounced over the centre median from the Fort Erie-bound lanes. Her husband of 29 years, Marek Chmielewski, said she was driving to work at Starsky Foods in Mississauga. It was a commute she had been making for three years, said store manager Espo Ariganello, who hired her to work in the store's deli. Mr. Ariganello described her as a dedicated, loyal employee, and said the women she worked with were in mourning. “The shift is basically her family,” he said.
“She definitely will be missed. It's a tragedy,” Mr. Ariganello said, especially coming so close to Christmas. “No one needs to die like this.” Next year the supermarket will be opening a Hamilton location, Mr. Ariganello said and he had already approved Ms. Chmielewski's application to transfer closer to home.
The couple has three sons, ranging from 21 to 28, he said. Police say the truck driver didn't stop after the incident, and officers are now looking for the truck that was headed toward the Niagara area. The president of the Ontario Trucking Association called on truck drivers and owners to review the safety of their rigs.
“This is a tragedy which should not be inflicted upon any family so we're asking all truckers, indeed the operators of all commercial vehicles, to review their wheel installation and maintenance practices and policies to try to prevent further occurrences,” OTA president David Bradley said in a statement.
Ms. Chmielewski is the seventh person killed on Ontario roads by a loose wheel since 1997, according to the Ministry of Transportation. Those include the 2006 death of a 41-year-old mother from Oakville, who was killed instantly on Highway 403 when a pair of truck tires came across the median and smashed through her windshield.
A Toronto man was killed in 2001 when a wheel crashed into his van on Highway 401. There have been 47 other “wheel-off incidents” in 2011, according to Bob Nichols, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. Mr. Nichols said that's a decline from a high of 215 in 1997, when the province introduced fines of up to $50,000 for the offence.
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