Yourem Mako, 43, from Stoney Creek is in custody on several charges

PORT DOVER — A child was saved by her dad when an allegedly drunk driver slowly but repeatedly plowed his van through the crowd at one of the busiest beaches in the province Saturday morning.

Bystanders who ran to help pulled the man out of the driver’s door and held him down in the sand, detaining him for police.

Nobody was injured in what could have been a disastrous scenario, according to OPP Const. Ed Sanchuk, who took to Twitter to assure the public that a child nearly struck by the slow-moving vehicle was miraculously uninjured. The incident was captured on video and posted to social media, causing many to wonder about the well-being of the family — including a little girl — who appeared to be struck by the van.

“That family was not injured,” said Sanchuk. “That father did a great job. He removed his kids out of harm’s way.”

That father was Jose Hernandez who put himself in front of the van to stop it and pushed his daughter to safety. His wife, Eskarlin Calero said she screamed and cried, thinking her daughter and husband had been hit by the van. Even after police took the driver away “I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” she said.

Yourem Mako, 43, from Stoney Creek is in custody and charged with impaired driving, driving with a blood-alcohol level exceeding the legal limit, dangerous driving and breach of probation.

Sanchuk says the driver was “extremely intoxicated.”

“It sounded like plastic crunching or metal cracking,” said Christine Ayala, 28, who was with her husband, children and other family members when she heard screaming. They were next to the family who was narrowly missed. “I just heard a noise, which was the van hopping the curb.”

Ayala said her uncle jumped on the hood of the van to make the driver stop.

“This guy was shaking his head … he was still trying to push the gas, still trying to turn the wheel.”

At 11:37 a.m. on the first day of a hot long weekend, the blue van drove down busy Walker Street, jammed with pedestrians making their way to the beach. At the foot of the street, which ends at the popular Lake Erie beach, the van continued right onto the sand. The video shows the van reversing slowly past sunbathers and beach towels, coolers and umbrellas back onto the street, then driving slowly forward again and mounting a curb into the sand.

Screams can be heard as people scatter out of the path of the van, which headed straight toward family of Calero and Hernandez set up with chairs and towels.

Brandon Kitchen, who captured it all on his phone and posted it to Facebook, can be heard saying “What the f*&!” repeatedly, his voice becoming increasingly panicked as he watches the van drive closer to the family. 

Kitchen wrote on Facebook: “Literally just saw the scariest thing.”

He added that when the driver was pulled out of the van, there were “many open and empty booze bottles and him screaming as he’s restrained by civilians.”

“You will all pay for this,” the man shouted, according to Kitchen.

Victim services counsellors from Haldimand-Norfolk OPP were brought to the beach to speak with anyone needing assistance after the incident.

“It was very traumatic for a bunch of people,” says Sanchuk.

Last month, the OPP found dozens of rusty nails on the Port Dover beach, which they believed were scattered there deliberately.

WARNING: Video contains graphic content.

With files from The Canadian Press

Source: The Hamilton Spectator