Tragedy struck a young Sri Lankan-Canadian family from Toronto, last Sunday morning. Jayantha Neil Wijeratne, 49, his wife Antonette, 50, and only daughter Eleesha, 16, were returning home from a road trip and holiday to Florida when a suspected drunk driver going the wrong way on Highway 427 slammed head-on into their Dodge mini-van killing father and daughter. The 19-year-old man driving the SUV that hit the Wijeratnes was also rushed to hospital with serious injuries. Police arrested him for impaired driving at the scene, but won’t release his name until formal charges are filed, sometime in the coming days.
Antonette Wijeratne survived the crash and is in the critical care unit at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. Doctors claim she is stable now and won’t be paralyzed and doesn’t seem to have brain damage.
According to news reports from the mainstream media in Toronto, the fourth member of the Wijeratne family – Brian, 19, had not made the trip to Florida. Today, he paces the floor of Sunnybrook Hospital anxiously waiting for news of his mother who is still on breathing apparatus. The rest of the time, Brian stays in the waiting room, or a floor below in the food court, with friends and extended family who come by. At night, he goes home but can’t sleep. He doesn’t really sleep anymore.
Brian is due to enter his second year of engineering at Ryerson University next month.
His mom knows she’s lost half her family — Wijeratne, her only remaining child, had to tell her — but she can’t talk until the breathing tube comes out. Still, her son knows she is destroyed.
“I’m just trying to stay strong for her because she needs me. I’m the only thing she’s living for at this point,” he said, sitting on a bench outside the hospital, staring at the manicured lawn in front of him.
“I feel like I can’t even start grieving yet because I need to stay strong for my mom.”