Family now lives near Etobicoke intersection where horrific crash occurred

Dan Pearce/Torstar
Marg Boutilier holds a photo of her son Michael, who was killed in September 2015 as a result of an impaired driver at Highway 427 and Burnhamthorpe Road.

Michael Boutilier had a terminal illness, but that didn’t stop him from living life to the fullest.

In fact, the night he was fatally injured by a drunk driver, the 24-year-old was enjoying time with friends, playing board games and arguing over the rules, talking and laughing, eating pizza and drinking tea.

“He loved to play board games and he loved to eat. He called himself a break connoisseur,” Michael’s mother, Marg Boutilier, said in a recent interview at her Etobicoke condo.

“He was driving himself everywhere. He was living life. Like you wouldn’t know from looking at him (that he was terminally ill) other than he was skinny as a rail, but he’d always been skinny.”

Boutilier family photo
Impaired driving crash victim Michael Boutilier.

Michael was driving home when his car was struck by a 2004 Acura TL at Burnhamthorpe Road and Highway 427 at 12:02 a.m. Sept. 26, 2015. He died in hospital two days later, leaving behind his parents, Marg and Glen, and older brother James.

“His collarbone was broken, he had multiple facial injuries. It just went on and on and on all the broken parts of his body,” Marg said of Michael’s wounds. “They had him on pain meds and I asked them if they could turn it down so I could try to talk to him, but (when) they did, he screamed in so much pain. It was terrible, so we had to ask them to turn it (pain medication) back up.”

The driver of the Acura, Jonathan Elliot Gordon, who was 31 at the time of the crash, was convicted of impaired driving causing death in 2018 and was given a five-year sentence. He was granted day parole in October 2019.

“I thought five years was fair, but the fact that he spent less than a quarter of that in jail before he gets parole, I don’t think that’s right,” Marg said. “They should have to be in jail for longer. It has to hurt for longer.”

Michael John Boutilier was born on March 17, 1991 and grew up in Mississauga.

“He was a quiet, shy child when he was younger,” Marg said. “When he got to high school, I think that’s where he blossomed.”

At 18, Michael was diagnosed with leukemia and underwent treatment.

“He actually was able to graduate high school while he was on and off going to the hospital doing his treatments,” said Marg. “He had so much exposure to nurses, he decided he was going to become a nurse.”

Michael was in remission when he began studying nursing at Georgian College.

“Partway through his second year, he was told that he had relapsed,” Marg said. “He had a bone-marrow transplant and we were waiting for him to be able to go back to school.”

But Michael developed lumps all over his body, which were initially believed to be a reaction from the bone marrow transplant. The lumps were biopsied and found to be cancerous. Michael was told in May 2014 that there were no more curative options available.

“Going through the cancer treatment, he really modelled a behaviour, a strength that I found admirable (and) I know others did as well,” said Marg. “He stayed positive throughout the whole thing.”

Though he was palliative patient, Michael remained active, taking trips to Vancouver and New York and driving himself to frequent medical appointments.

“He was out and about, he was doing stuff,” Marg said. “He wasn’t laying in a bed waiting to die.”

An hour before the crash, Michael was sitting in a friend’s basement in downtown Toronto enjoying pizza, tea and board games with friends.

The friends then dropped Michael off at the Kipling subway station to pick up his car.

Michael was on his way home, exiting Highway 427 at Burnhamthorpe, when the eastbound Acura struck him. He spent his final days at Sunnybrook hospital’s intensive care unit.

“I played Tegan and Sara, which was his favourite music people, for him on my cellphone in the hospital the whole time,” said Marg. “I thought that would give him comfort and we called all of his close friends to come and say their goodbyes to him.”

Dan Pearce/Torstar
Marg Boutilier’s son Michael was killed in September 2015 as a result of an impaired driver in Etobicoke.

Marg said she was “very angry” when she learned the other driver was impaired.

“(Michael) had spoken to his doctors about end of life and they had assured him that he would not have a painful end of life, so he was counting on that,” Marg said. “Another thing that made us all very angry was that after such a hard struggle, Jonathan took that from him.”

Marg and Glen now live on Burnhamthorpe, just a few kilometres from where their son was fatally hurt.

“I go through that intersection a lot, and I think about it every time,” said Marg, who’s sharing her story in the hopes of preventing even one other impaired driving crash.

Toronto police said they made 1,108 impaired driving-related arrests so far this year, compared to 1,030 at this time in 2018.

“How would you feel if your loved one is going to be the impact of this (impaired driving). … It not only ruins your life, it can ruin many, many other lives,” Marg said. “Be responsible. There are so many options out there.”

Source: Toronto.com