Andrew Haller is alive today thanks to quick thinking on his part and swift action by “guardian angels” who rushed to help him and his son after a collision between their motorcycle and a minivan last month.
“I was coming down Grange here and all of a sudden it just happened in front of me,” said Debbie Gaca. “It actually took me a couple seconds to realize what I saw.”
Gaca was traveling west on Grange Road and the Hallers were driving east approaching the intersection at Hagan Avenue.
“He clipped him good,” said Gaca. “Drew went flying. The little boy went flying. It was awful.”
Haller and his son were behind a truck that turned right on to Hagan Avenue and the driver of the minivan pulled off of Hagan on to Grange Road in front of them.
“By the time I saw him he was already in front of me,” said Haller. “There was no way of stopping that or getting around it. That was it – bam!”
The impact threw them forward on to the road.
“I jumped up and said – ‘oh, I’m good, I’m good.’ then I looked down and realized that’s not good,” said Haller.
Gaca watched in horror as events unfolded.
“I saw Drew get up and try to make a tourniquet on his leg with his belt,” said Gaca. “That’s when I jumped out of the car and the people behind me came out. I ran to the little boy who was thrown from the motorcycle because he wasn’t moving and I was really worried about him.”
Haller Sr was bleeding heavily from a large gash in his leg.
“It ended up cutting through my femoral artery,” he said. “The blood was coming out like Niagara Falls. I don’t know if it was from watching all these movies where people make a tourniquet but my head just said, ‘Put a belt on her’. Otherwise I would have bled out in two minutes.”
Dave and Cheryl Prince also witnessed the accident. They jumped from their car and rushed forward to help Haller who was growing faint from blood loss.
“I got to the sidewalk and this gentleman, Dave, came up,” said Haller. “He held the belt until paramedics could get there and his wife held my hand.”
Meanwhile Gaca was tending to Junior.
“He spoke to me the whole time,” said Gaca. “His breathing was fine. His pulse was good but he kept saying he couldn’t move his legs. I was just trying to keep him comfortable and he was so concerned about his father. This little 11-year-old boy in pain and worried about his father. So, I kept reassuring him that his dad was okay. He was being looked after.”
Emergency crews were quick on to the scene and Junior was airlifted to Hamilton.
“The paramedics were outstanding,” said Haller Sr. “The airlift was actually called for me because they thought at first I broke my femur. Since they were already there and there was a child with a concussion, they flew him to McMaster.”
It took 22 stitches to sew Haller Sr’s leg up
“Yesterday they took out the stitches and took all the scabs off so right now it’s all open again,” he said. “I can feel it throbbing but I’m healing nicely. I’m walking.”
Junior was off school for two and half weeks and is still shaken by the experience.
“My son has PTSD and still has really bad thoughts about it,” said Haller. “He’s 11 years old so he is going to soak it up like a sponge.”
Nevertheless, they have both been out riding on Haller’s new motorcycle.
“I didn’t force him but if you don’t get him right back in the saddle he will never get on a bike again,” said Haller. “I said to him, ‘I may not look it but I’m scared too buddy. Come on let’s try this out.’ Then we went for a nice ride together.”
The 65-year-old male driver of the minivan was charged with careless driving causing bodily harm
“It sucks and I am sad that my son had to go through all that,” said Haller. “People on their cell phones. It’s just ridiculous man.”
The accident gained national media attention and was used as a cautionary tale for motorists to watch for motorcycles and stay off their cell phones while driving.
“The story went viral,” said Haller. “We were on Canada-wide Global News and the CTV six o’clock news.”
Haller regretted that he never got a chance that day to thank the strangers who stepped forward to help but has since tracked down Gaca and the Princes through social media and mutual friends.
“It is amazing how people came together,” said Haller. “The fact that they did what they did was outstanding.”
Dave Prince said he feels a little humbled being described as a hero.
“It’s the right thing to do when you see someone in need,” said Prince. “I would hope someone would do the same if anything like that were to happen to us.”
Gaca echoes his sentiment and was touched by the Hallers’ gratitude.“After the accident Drew reached out to me so I spoke to him and I spoke to his son, which I thought was so nice,” she said. “Thank you for all the people that stopped and offered assistance. That was great to see. It brought a tear to my eye.”