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Special Olympians and support staff struck in Barrie crash


Two adults with intellectual disabilities and their support staff worker from Empower Simcoe remain in Toronto hospitals after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street near Sadlon Arena Thursday.

The three were walking to the Barrie Colts game when they were hit at the intersection of Mapleview Drive East and Bayview Drive.

"The first thing that she asked about were the two people when she was able to speak even after being hurt," said Claudine Cousins of Empower Simcoe CEO.

A 32-year-old Barrie woman was charged with three counts of impaired operation causing bodily harm after being arrested at the scene.

Cousins said the support worker and the individuals have worked together for so long that they have grown a special relationship.

"Dismay, frustration and sometimes a little bit of anger," she added about how her organization is feeling. "They're a tight group. They've been together a long time. And the people they support are like family themselves so the bond that is there is unbreakable. So, it's been really stressful for all involved."

Both of the supported individuals are also former or current Special Olympians.

"As a community, it's hard to fathom why someone would think they could get behind a wheel after having alcohol or drugs," said Barrie Special Olympics Community Coordinator Dawn Windross.

Windross said she is concerned about how this incident may affect the other athletes.

"It's tragic for them and traumatic. They have to process this and understand. One of the men was fearful of coming out in the first place and had to be encouraged to come," Windross said.

Cousins points out that going to large events isn't always easy for the individuals in their care.

"They take pride in what they can contribute to their community and they are also showing others what's possible even with a disability," she said.

This is the second time in just a few weeks that one of their members has been struck by a vehicle while travelling to or from Sadlon Arena.

"The Colts have reached out to us as well, and they are interested in making sure that we can work together to plan on ensuring this doesn't happen again," said Cousins.

The Empower Simcoe Foundation has set up a GoFundMe, which will go directly to the victims to help their families with travel expenses going to and from Toronto for hospital visits. The donations will also help out with accommodating mobility issues and home care for all three victims. Top Stories

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