'He's very banged up': Dad of baby boy seriously injured in hit and run wants justice

The father of a baby boy who was seriously injured in a hit and run in Scarborough over the weekend is appealing to those responsible to turn themselves in to police.

The distraught father spoke exclusively with CBC News following Sunday's "horrible" accident, which also left his wife and mother-in-law hospitalized with a broken leg and "a very bad" hand injury, respectively.

"My only hope is that the people who were involved in this are accountable and turn themselves in," said Brent. CBC News is not using the family's last name to protect the baby's identity.

"Accidents happen but ... this is a crime now because you left the scene. You basically might have left them there to potentially die. Luckily they survived, but that's the way I see it."

CBC

The incident happened just before 11 a.m. Sunday, police said, when a grey 2015 Dodge Journey was headed eastbound on Ellesmere Road, near Pharmacy Avenue. The driver failed to stop at a red light, crossed the intersection and mounted the curb, hitting the two women, aged 57 and 37, and the 20-month-old baby boy, police said.

The women were standing on the sidewalk on the southeast corner of the intersection and the baby boy was in a stroller at the time, according to investigators.

"They could have got out and make sure that they're OK, or at least helped in some sort of way. But instead of doing that, they decided to drive away, so it's no longer an accident the way I see it," Brent said.

"So, I hope that the police do what they do best and get these people, catch them and then hopefully the justice system will hold them accountable."

Andy Hincenbergs/CBC

Police initially said they were looking for three people of interest, but later said two of them — a 30-year-old woman and a 49-year-old man — had been found.

A warrant is being sought for another Toronto man, who police said they've identified as the 34-year-old driver.

Investigators have also obtained security camera footage showing the vehicle being abandoned.

Baby Daniel 'doing well,' dad says

Brent said he was at work when he received the phone call from a Toronto police officer on Sunday, telling him that his wife, son and mother-in-law were all involved in an accident, and that he needed to go to SickKids Hospital right away to see his son, Daniel.

"They didn't know too much about their status other than that they were in stable condition, but that they were concerned about getting me there as soon as possible," Brent recalled, adding that the police drove him from his workplace to the hospital.

"At this time he is in good hands. He's doing very well. He's very banged up but he's doing well," Brent said of his son's condition.

He said his wife and mother-in-law are at Sunnybrook Hospital recuperating.

Toronto Police Service

Mayor: 'It was a tragedy'

Toronto Mayor John Tory said there's nothing the city could have done to prevent the incident.

Tory said the family members were "doing what they were supposed to do" — standing on the sidewalk, waiting their turn to cross the street — when they were struck.

He said no government initiative could have stopped somebody driving in what he called "erratic circumstances."

"It was a tragedy and I'm terribly sorry about it and I'm glad everybody seems to be recovering, but in this case it was not people who were crossing the street, they were standing on the curb," Tory said Tuesday.

Earlier this year Tory vowed to lower speed limits and crack down on motorists who break traffic laws in an effort to reduce the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the city.

The measures are part of an updated plan presented to city council over the summer, which also includes other traffic-calming efforts such as changes to road design and additional crossings.

'Complete lack of decency and humanity'

Meanwhile, as police continue to look for those responsible, a personal injury lawyer told CBC News that Sunday's accident has once again brought another issue to the forefront — municipalities exposing themselves to lawsuits because of dangerous intersections.

But Patrick Brown, the head of the Coalition for Vulnerable Road Users, said those responsible for Sunday's hit and run could also face extensive penalties.

"I don't know how anybody processes just a complete lack of decency and humanity to be in that situation and leave a 20-month-old toddler injured with two other individuals at the side of the road and then take off," Brown said Tuesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning.

"The police could lay charges under the Criminal Code and that can have pretty extensive penalties, up to, certainly depending if there's death or serious injury, they can be up to 14 years. They can also lay it under Highway Traffic Act, which is a provincial offence.

…If there's alcohol involved, then obviously the sentencing can be much, much greater," Brown added.

'It's a terrible story'

Anthony Moustacalis, a criminal defence lawyer who has also worked as a prosecutor, says people who flee the scene of an accident usually do so out of panic.

"What happens is that often times people panic because of the severity of what happened," told Metro Morning.

"Another scenario as well is that if someone's under the influence of alcohol or drugs, then they're concerned that that's going to result in an increased charge or penalty, so they might flee so that they try essentially to destroy evidence."

Toronto Police Service

Moustacalis said the law recognizes such scenarios by providing for a specific section that makes it a crime to leave the scene of an accident if the intent is to escape civil or criminal liability.

While he's not involved in this case — "it's a terrible story," he said of the situation — he said he would remind those involved to contact the authorities. 

"I would advise them that they have a duty to report an accident if they are aware of property damage, or in this case personal injury," Moustacalis said.

Investigators are asking anyone with information on the hit and run to call police at 416-808-1900, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).