The woman who plays Anne of Green Gables at the Charlottetown Festival says she's "very, very lucky" she wasn't hit by the van that killed 10 people in Toronto on Monday.
A.J. Bridel, who lives in Toronto, was walking on a sidewalk minutes before a van jumped the curb and began striking pedestrians. She had stopped at a taco truck but continued on her way because it didn't have what she was looking for. That might have saved her, she said.
"About five minutes later the van that was involved in the incident actually pulled up on the sidewalk about 20 feet in front me," she said.
Bridel didn't see the dramatic standoff with the officer who has been hailed as a hero, but said she saw the suspect get arrested.
Bridel doesn't want to think about what might have happened had she stayed to eat by the taco truck.
"The van literally drove the path that I walked, it just came five minutes later," she said. "I was very, very lucky."
It wasn't until she started walking back that she realized what had happened.
"That was definitely a moment that broke my heart when I walked back and I saw so much mayhem right in front of the [taco] truck," she said. "That's where the worst of it all happened and that freaked me out."
The actress hadn't been back to the scene as of Wednesday but said she planned to lay flowers before moving to P.E.I. for the summer.
"I love Toronto so much, I love North York so much," she said of the district where the massacre took place.
"I think I've also been given a lovely gift that I get to go to a beautiful province of Prince Edward Island for the summer. Hopefully when I come back home it'll be a more healed place. I'm looking forward to spending some time away because it happened in my backyard."
Though she was shaken by the experience, Bridel said it won't affect her ability to play Anne.
"I came out of that experience with heartache but also with an extreme level of gratitude," Bridel said.
"There are so many people that were so much more greatly affected in horrible, horrible ways that I can't for an instant think, 'Gee am I going to be able to play Anne Shirley?' No, no. no, no. That's going to be the best part of my summer."
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