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‘We are at a complete loss of words’: survivor of Highway 401 wrong-way crash speaks out | CBC News



A survivor of a fatal wrong-way crash on the Highway 401 last week is speaking out for the first time, saying his family is “reeling” from the collision that claimed the lives of both his parents and his three-month-old son.

Among their family, Gokulnath Manivannan, 33, and his wife Ashwitha Jawahar, 27, were the sole survivors of the Monday crash, according to a statement provided to CBC News from Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) on Sunday.

In it, Manivannan detailed part of what has transpired since, including the loss of his son Aditya Vivaan, his father Manivannan Srinivasapillai and his mother Mahalakshmi Ananthakrishnan.

“We are at a complete loss of words to describe the agony and vacuum in our hearts knowing we can never hold our child Aditya Vivaan, who gave us so many precious memories in such a short time, in our hands again,” wrote Manivannan.

“His small toys and clothes remain spread around our home, and we have no courage in us to even enter our home which is filled with our only son’s memories.”

His parents arrived from Chennai, India two days before the crash, he said. The Indian Consulate General identified the grandparents last week, saying they will assist the surviving family members in “every possible way.”

“My father, who had recently retired at the age of 60, was overjoyed with the opportunity to spend time with his grandson. He affectionately referred to this time as the ‘year of grandparents fun,'” he wrote. “My mother, aged 55, was eagerly anticipating every moment with her son and grandson, planning to make their stay all about her grandchild.”

WATCH | Video shows van barrelling toward driver as police followed on 401:

Dashcam footage shows van driving wrong way before fatal Highway 401 crash

Milica Maljkovic Birkett found herself in the middle of a police chase during her Monday commute. Dashcam video shows the van barrelling toward her as police followed on Highway 401 in Whitby.

The Ajax, Ont. couple is asking for space to “heal in private,” adding that they have confirmed funeral arrangements in Markham and Toronto this week.

“The pain of my own injuries pales as I grapple with the shock and loss of my parents and my only son on the same evening and the ordeal continues with my wife’s continued suffering from surgeries and repeated flashbacks of the trauma,” he said.

“The aftermath has left an indelible mark on our lives, with profound grief. While we begin the arduous journey of planning farewells for our loved ones, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to the community who hold our family in their thoughts,” said Manivannan.

Collision happened after wrong-way police chase

The Monday collision happened after a police chase that began with an alleged liquor store robbery in Bowmanville, Ont., in the regional municipality of Clarington. Police pursued the suspect as he drove the wrong way on Highway 401 in Whitby, about 50 kilometres east of Toronto.

That chase ended in a fatal collision that involved at least six vehicles, according to the SIU. The robbery suspect, a 21-year-old man, was also killed. A 38-year-old man who was also in the suspect U-Haul van remains in hospital with serious injuries, the SIU said Thursday.

The crash has prompted questions as to why police officers continued to chase the suspect while he was speeding into oncoming traffic on the country’s busiest highway. An investigation into the deadly crash remains underway, the SIU said.

The agency, which examines deaths involving police in Ontario, has assigned seven investigators, one forensic investigator and one collision reconstructionist to the case. 

Anyone with information, videos or photos is being asked to contact the SIU.

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