Tori Sutton, Stratford Gazette
A Stratford man has been honoured for his role in the aftermath of the deadly crash in Hampstead.
On Thursday afternoon, Richard Sherwood was presented with a certificate recognizing his bravery and courage the afternoon of Feb. 6, when he came upon the horrific scene just seconds after the crash.
Ten migrant workers travelling in a 15-passenger van were killed, as was a truck driver from London. Three workers survived.
Sherwood – a therapist, motivational speaker and truck driver – sprang into action, calling 911, checking vital signs and comforting the survivors. He stayed on scene for some time to assist first responders.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Sherwood, of the honour. “It’s nice to be recognized, but it’s sad it’s recognition for something so horrible.”
The Hampstead crash wasn’t the first time Sherwood had found himself in that sort of situation.
Back in 1999, he stopped to help after coming across a crash scene on Highway 401. Two children died in that incident.
However, the Hampstead crash – one of the worst in the province’s history – was different because of the magnitude, and the fact he was one of the first on scene, he said.
“You have to think how small a space that was for 10 people to have passed away and three to be living,” Sherwood said, of the mangled passenger van.
He plans on keeping the certificate in a special place. It also bears some significance, he said, noting people do not become resilient without hitting a few bumps in the road.
“That’s what this represents ... picking up the pieces and moving on.”
MPP Randy Pettapiece made the presentation at his constituency office on Lorne Avenue.
The decision to honour Sherwood came after a suggestion by a citizen, he said. Pettapiece also noted the recognition comes at a time when the province is in the process of passing Bill 119 – the First Responders Day Act – which when finalized, will see May 1 designated as First Responders Day.
For a time, Pettapiece worked as a trucker and stopped at several crashes. Though none were as serious as the crash at Hampstead, he noted how difficult those situations can be and lauded Sherwood for this efforts.
“It’s a terrible thing,” he said. “You jumped in and did what a lot of people couldn’t do.”
Pettapiece also praised the first responders who arrived at the scene, along with the community at large for its concern and fundraising efforts for the survivors.
“I take great pride in representing a community that does something like that,” he said.