Comber truck driver suffered a heart attack, but in his final act saved lives

·2 min read

Gary Demars knew he was in danger, so in his last moments, he wanted to make sure no one else was.

The 71-year-old truck driver from Comber managed to pull his truck, which was transporting cars, off the road while he was suffering a fatal heart attack on the westbound 401 near Kingston Friday. Now, he's receiving praise for saving "countless" lives with his final act.

Holly Matte, Demars' daughter, remembers her father — a lifelong resident of Essex County — as a gentle soul who loved his family.

"He was a jokester, he laughed, and of all things he was a family man," she said.

Josie Demars, his wife, says truck driving was her husband's passion.

"He loved his job, loved being a truck driver, that was in his blood," she said, adding that he drove trucks for 56 years.

"As he said to me, 'Don't expect me anytime soon to stop driving truck[s]."

On Friday evening, Josie got a knock on her door from Lakeshore OPP. An officer relayed the news that her husband had died at a Kingston hospital.

On Saturday morning, Josie got a call from an OPP officer in Kingston. The officer said a witness told police that Demars was able to get his truck off of the busy highway without colliding with another vehicle.

"The officer said, 'I commend your husband, because he saved a lot of lives,'" she said.

Family thankful for support

Josie, Demars' wife of 44 years, is unable to work due to a disability and depended on him for financial support.

Demars' family has set up a GoFundMe page, which as of writing has raised $7,650 of its $15,000 goal.

"I'm overwhelmed, I'm so overwhelmed with the love of everybody, and people, the compassion that people have for other human beings," Josie said. "My husband was a compassionate man, he loved people."

"I'm thankful that there are people out there like this, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart."

Matte thanks family, friends and strangers for their love and support.

"People that didn't even know my dad ... they're all sending us messages saying that he was a hero that night. He saved many people, and those people got to go home to their families because of my dad's selfless act," she said.

Demars is survived by his wife, three children, eight grandchildren, and six siblings.

Visitations are set to take place at Reid Funeral Home at 14 Russell St. in Leamington Thursday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.