Thursday, July 14, 2011

Driver’s tragic death reverberates in community

Thayalan Vinasithamby was quiet, and a gentleman, co-workers say.

Vinasithamby, who immigrated to Canada from Sri Lanka in the late 1980s, worked three jobs to help his family and extended family members move to Ontario, Canada.

On Saturday, July 9, the truck driver was working his regional route in southern Michigan when two young drivers began street racing on Interstate 94 near Detroit. One of the cars hit Thayalan’s truck, resulting in the truck crashing into a Kroger grocery store.

Thayalan’s truck smashed into a brick wall, and the 44-year-old driver died from injuries sustained during the wreck and its fiery aftermath.

One of the drivers, a 19-year-old female, was driving on a suspended license, and could face charges of negligent homicide for her role in the race and wreck.

Co-workers at Indocan Trucking of Ontario, Canada, were deeply saddened this week as they dealt with the aftermath of the wreck. They say Thayalan was quiet, and had trucked for more than 20 years, always available to help other drivers.

“He was very good; he was a FAST-card holder and a very careful driver,” said Pam Mann, co-owner of Indocan Trucking of Ontario, Canada. “He was one of the kindest persons you could come across.”

“This is nothing but a sad, sad story,” Mann told Land Line Magazine Thursday. “He was a true gentleman. He doesn’t deserve this.”

The Manns and others at Indocan Trucking are working to set up a trust fund to benefit Thayalan’s 9-year-old daughter and wife. “It’s been so busy since this wreck I haven’t had a chance to go open an account,” Pam said.

Many drivers in the Indian and Sri Lankan communities around Ontario have reached out with words of support, Pam Mann said.

“We are tight-knit, and Sri Lanka – that is another community that is very tight,” Mann said. “This is all hard, but who is going to be around months from now, or a year from now to help his wife and daughter? This is why my heart goes out to her.”