401 wheel separation

Driver 'lucky to be alive' after wheel flies off transport truck on Hwy 401

Today in real life meets Final Destination, Ontario Provincial Police say a local man is lucky to be alive after a wheel came flying off a transport truck in front of him on Highway 401, striking his car and causing severe vehicular damage that could easily have extended to human injury, had the driver not been so quick to react.

OPP Highway Safety Division Sgt. Kerry Schmidt took to Twitter on Thursday afternoon with one of his trademark live dispatches in an attempt to warn those who use Ontario highways that this can happen to anyone.

"I'm [on] Highway 401 westbound right now, you can see the car behind me, totally messed up here," says Schmidt in the video. "We just had a wheel separation. A wheel came off a transport truck."

Schmidt then pans to the car that was hit by the truck's wheel and... it is not a comforting sight. The sedan's rear door and back bumper on the driver's side are completely mangled. Airbags have been deployed. I'm no mechanic, but it looks like a write-off.

Schmidt goes on to explain that, fortunately, the rogue transport truck wheel "only took the side off" the consumer vehicle, as opposed to the life of the man who was sitting in the driver's seat.

It's not often that police bring people involved in their dispatches on camera with them, but the driver of this vehicle, identified only as "Mark," seemed happy to speak to the public about what had happened to him.

"Did you actually see it coming?" asked Schmidt of the lucky and diligent driver.

"Yes I did. I did see it coming, Kerry... it came off the bridge. And what happened, I just saw it last second, and what I did is, I went from the second lane over here, and I made sure no one was in the right lane really, really fast, and I just moved over just in time and it plowed in the side of me, instead of my front windshield."

Based on road conditions, skill level and simply the direction of where someone's gaze fell at that particular moment, not every driver would have been able to make such a manoeuvre to get out of what Schmidt calls a "scary situation."

The officer used the incident to reiterate that every motorist needs to ensure their vehicles are safe for the road.

"Check those wheel fasteners, if you had them changed recently because of a brake job or because of the seasonal tire change. You have to check your knot, check your wheel nuts and make sure they're properly torqued and tightened down and they're not going to fail," said Schmidt.

"This could have been deadly and Mark is lucky that it didn't go right into the occupant compartment... I'm gonna go find the truck right now. Please make sure your wheel nuts are fastened properly, and you double check them after you had them installed."

Lead photo by


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