Etobicoke father of 2 'lucky to be alive' after road rage incident leaves him severely injured

·3 min read
Justin Smith, 39, was run over by a car during a road rage incident last Friday. He has been recovering in hospital, but doctors say he may never walk normally again.  (Submitted by Magda Szozda - image credit)
Justin Smith, 39, was run over by a car during a road rage incident last Friday. He has been recovering in hospital, but doctors say he may never walk normally again. (Submitted by Magda Szozda - image credit)

An Etobicoke father of two says he's "lucky to be alive" after a road rage incident that left him severely injured.

"It was by far the scariest moment of my life," 39-year-old Justin Smith told CBC Toronto.

"I'm lucky I'm not dead."

Toronto police say it happened around 5 p.m. last Friday at the Westway Plaza, near Kipling and Dixon roads. Smith was leaving the plaza, having just bought dinner for his wife and 10-year-old twin boys.

As Smith was walking to his car, he noticed a driver parked in a fire route. Smith told the driver to move his car. Then, he got into his own vehicle and headed home.

"I didn't think anything of it. He didn't say anything back," Smith said.

On the way back to his apartment, the driver pulled up beside Smith at an intersection and started yelling at him. The driver then followed him back to the parking lot of his building.

Smith says he tried to drive away, but couldn't shake the assailant off. Eventually, he got out of his car and tried to enter his building on foot. That's when the car sped toward him and hit him, cracking the windshield .

The driver fled the scene.

Assault with a weapon 

"I just started screaming and it was the most intense pain I've ever experienced in my life," Smith said.

"It was so fast, but it felt like forever."

Residents of the building heard the commotion and found Smith bleeding on the ground in the parking lot.

One neighbour called Smith's wife, Magda Szozda, who works at a nearby flower shop.

Submitted by Magda Szozda
Submitted by Magda Szozda

When she arrived 10 minutes later, she said her husband's only concern was for their family and how they would pay the bills.

"He kept screaming, 'We're screwed. We're screwed. We're so screwed.'" Szozda said. "And I'm like, 'OK, you're here. You're alive. Let's just focus on that right now.'"

Toronto Police 23 Division is investigating the attack as an assault with a weapon —  the assailant's vehicle.

In an email to CBC Toronto on Friday morning, police said video footage of the incident has revealed the assailant to be a man. There was also a woman in the passenger seat.

Police say they are searching for both people.

Smith might not walk normally again

One week later, Smith is still in hospital with severe injuries, including to his wrist and leg.

He's set to undergo surgery in the next couple of weeks. He says doctors tell him it will be at least nine months until he is able to work, adding that he may never walk normally again.

Submitted by Magda Szozda
Submitted by Magda Szozda

"I live for my family. I work for my family ... I do whatever I can to give my family the best life," Smith said through tears.

As a full-time Canada Post mail carrier and part-time Uber driver, Smith is the primary breadwinner of the family.

The responsibility has now fallen on his wife to pay the rent, as well as take care of the boys and their 10-month-old puppy.

Submitted by Magda Szozda
Submitted by Magda Szozda

"He's one of the hardest working people I know, but he was the reason we were getting by," Szorda told CBC Toronto.

"The looming thought of him being out of commission is probably the most terrifying."

Community response 

Szozda says she has been overwhelmed by the support from family, friends and neighbours who have dropped off food and supplies.

Szozda's cousin, Ania Russocki, also started a GoFundMe in the hopes of raising extra funds to help them pay rent for the next few months.

Submitted by Magda Szozda
Submitted by Magda Szozda

"The reaction and and what they're facing right now and the community's love and outpouring of support has definitely made a huge difference to the whole family," Russocki said.

Szozda says she also hopes to use the community response as a teachable moment for her sons.

"There's good people ...  You think you're so alone sometimes," she said.

"It will never, ever be forgotten."