Man pleads guilty in fatal crash
Drunk driver killed pedestrian, injured others on Canada Day last year
On Canada Day last year, Nitan Thakur drunkenly sped along Wellington Street in downtown Toronto, ran a red light and caused a three-car collision, killing a 26year-old pedestrian and injuring several other people.
On Wednesday, Thakur pleaded guilty to impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing death for killing Gregory Girgis, who had been walking along University Avenue just before midnight after finishing work at a nearby Jack Astor’s restaurant.
In the chaos of the pile-up, Thakur struck Girgis with his Jeep Grand Cherokee and crushed him as the car hit a cement structure at a corner of the intersection, according to an agreed statement of facts read in court by Crown attorney Anna Leggett. Girgis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Standing in the prisoner’s box dressed in a navy blue coat and jeans, Thakur also pleaded guilty to five counts of impaired operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. Among those injured were 32-year-old pedestrian Carlos Bastarrachea, whose left leg had to be amputated, and the driver of an Uber vehicle and two of his passengers.
Witnesses at the scene saw a beer can being thrown out of Thakur’s car shortly after the crash, and one was found by police, Leggett said.
Thakur, now 28, was driving at 129 km/h just two seconds before the crash; the speed limit on Wellington Street is 40 km/h. A breathalyzer test taken about an hour and a half after the crash showed Thakur had 160 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood — twice the legal limit.
The Mississauga man has a history of non-criminal traffic offences going back to 2012, with 12 convictions, including for speeding and failing to yield. At the time of the crash, he was also facing criminal charges of assault causing bodily harm and mischief related to an alleged incident in downtown Toronto in May 2022; those charges remain outstanding, according to court records. He is presently in jail.
Gregory Girgis had three brothers and a sister. His younger brother Victor described him to the Star last year as a very happy person who always laughed at his own jokes, was very skilled at his job, and who was a good athlete who had played hockey and baseball.
“He had a very obnoxious laugh that I think most people will always remember him for,” Victor Girgis said last year.
“Parents should never have to bury their child.”
Thakur and a female friend had been at a bar on Front Street prior to the crash, where the woman reported having four to five drinks, but didn’t know how much alcohol Thakur had consumed. She was in the front passenger seat of the jeep and suffered bruised ribs and fractures to her knees.
“Mr. Thakur approached the intersection at a high rate of speed,” Leggett said, reading from the statement of facts. “Witnesses saw and heard the jeep accelerate loudly as it approached University Avenue, and observed the jeep enter the intersection contrary to the red traffic signal.”
He hit two Uber vehicles that were driving through the green light on University Avenue, sending one of them spinning toward a corner where it hit and severely injured Bastarrachea, who lost his left leg. He continues to suffer from pain, anxiety, and depression and receives ongoing treatment.
The Uber driver suffered a broken ankle and elbow. One of his passengers’ pelvis and nine ribs were fractured, while another suffered numerous cuts from broken glass.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 18, where victim impact statements will be given to the court, and the Crown and defence will make arguments on the appropriate sentence.
Parents should never have to bury their child.
VICTOR GIRGIS BROTHER OF VICTIM
Toronto Star Newspapers Limited