It was a warm spring day in Toronto one year ago when a man drove a rental van onto Yonge Street’s sidewalk around lunchtime and plowed through clusters of pedestrians between Hendon and Poyntz Avenues.
He killed 10 people and injured 16. Within a week, the Toronto Police Service and Ontario’s chief coroner had officially named the 10 who died. They were:
Beutis Renuka Amarasingha, 45, from Toronto
Andrea Bradden, 33, from Woodbridge, Ont.
Geraldine Brady, 83, from Toronto
Sohe Chung, 22, from Toronto
Anne Marie D’Amico, 30, from Toronto
Betty ‘Mary Elizabeth’ Forsyth, 94, from Toronto
Ji Hun Kim, 22, from South Korea, but living in Toronto
Dorothy Sewell, 80, from Toronto
Chul Min Kang, 45, from Toronto
Munir Abdo Habib Najjar, 85, from Jordan
A year later, a fundraising campaign called Toronto Strong has officially closed after raising more than $4 million to support the victims and their families, and the city says consultations are underway to build permanent memorials. Meanwhile, innumerable people affected by the attack — from the relatives of those who died to the injured survivors and their families — have been working to recover and adapt to their new realities.
Amarasingha’s son, Diyon, now eight, was taken in by family friends following his mother’s death. Thousands of people donated to a GoFundMe online fundraiser for the boy, raising just under $360,000.
In the year since her death, Anne Marie D’Amico’s family has launched a charitable foundation in her memory. The Anne Marie D’Amico Foundation aims to end violence against women.
Survivors of the attack have been busy this past year too, attempting to right what went wrong that day.
Aleksandra Kozhevnikova, 92, was catastrophically inured and now needs round-the-clock care from a personal support worker.
Three other injured survivors — Amaresh Tesfamariam, Catherine Riddell and Amir Kiumarsi — have filed lawsuits seeking millions of dollars from accused attacker Alek Minassian, as has the family of Anne Marie D’Amico. The lawsuits describe a litany of permanent disabilities the survivors suffer from as a result of traumatic brain injuries, spinal fractures and internal bleeding.
Riddell, 67, spent weeks in hospital recovering from fractures and internal bleeding. She took her first post-injury walk down a public sidewalk three months after the attack.
Tesfamariam is paralyzed below the neck, cannot breathe without a machine and suffers a “profound and permanent loss of her cognitive ability,” according to the claim her family filed.
Kiumarsi, a chemistry professor at Ryerson University, suffers from severe chronic pain as the result of a traumatic brain injury, skull fractures, spinal fractures and internal injuries. In the months following the attack, hundreds of people within the Ryerson community raised more than $43,000 to help him recover.
The City of Toronto and the We Love Willowdale community group have organized a day of memorial events to take place on the anniversary of the attack, beginning with an address by Mayor John Tory at 9 a.m. and ending with community dinners at 6:45 p.m. For more information about the day’s events, visit We Love Willowdale.