The mother of two young boys who narrowly escaped getting hit by an out-of-control SUV on Wednesday is still visibly shaken by the terrifying ordeal which left their nanny in a Toronto intensive care unit.
“It’s just every mother’s worst nightmare,” said Allison speaking exclusively to Global News Thursday afternoon.
The family asked that their last name not be published due to privacy concerns. However, they wanted to speak up and encourage support for Jillian Mendoza, their nanny who is now being hailed as a hero for her brave actions.
Mendoza was pushing Allison’s sons, aged two and three, in a stroller along St. Clair Avenue West near Dufferin Street just after 11 a.m. on Wednesday when a SUV reversed with enough power to mount the curb and drive into her.
Police said witnesses saw Mendoza push the stroller out of the way when this happened so that the children in her care wouldn’t get hurt. In doing so, she was thrown against a storefront and pinned between a shattered window and the vehicle. Allison said this quick-thinking, selfless decision by Mendoza doesn’t surprise her.
“She’s the utmost loving and caring nanny and caregiver and I know she would have done everything in her power to protect them,” she said.
The two young brothers escaped with minor injuries and were back at home with their parents playing in the front yard pm Thursday.
There’s been an outpouring of concern and support for Mendoza who remains in an intensive care unit.
She had three surgeries within the first 24 hours of being rushed to hospital with head trauma and broken bones. Cheryl Catricala, a fellow nanny and close friend who was with Mendoza just before the crash happened, said numerous more surgeries will be part of her recovery. The two had taken the kids to a local park to go tobogganing earlier that morning.
“I saw helicopters circling and heard a woman and two kids were hurt… I tried calling Jillian… her phone goes to call waiting, I think ‘oh my God,’ she doesn’t answer,” said an emotional Catricala, who has known Mendoza since she arrived in Canada several years ago.
“She’s a strong person, an amazing person, friend, and nanny.”
Mendoza, in her 30s, came to work in Toronto by herself, leaving her daughter and parents behind in the Philippines where she was a nurse. She was the sole provider for her family, whom she hopes to bring over to Canada one day.
“That’s her dream for her daughter to come here. Even though she’s a single mum… she works very hard for her daughter and her family, that’s who Jillian is,” said Catricala.
There’s now an urgency to get her permanent residency secured so that she can bring her loved ones to Canada to help take care of her during what is going to be a long road to recovery.
A GoFundMe crowdfunding page to support Mendoza has been set up by another friend and fellow nanny who has been in touch with her in the hospital.
“I told her about all the support she is getting from everyone. The love, kind words, prayers and financial support, and she was so overwhelmed. She never expected it. She was so grateful,” said Anney Gonzales.
“I just messaged her, ‘Don’t give up,’” said Catricala.
As for the young boys who Mendoza has cared for since they were babies, their mother said they’re already asking about where their “Tita” (meaning “aunt” in Tagalog) is. Allison explained she’s like a family member to them and her Canadian family has a message for Mendoza.
“We just wanted her to feel that we care for her and we will support her through this,” said Allison.
Police haven’t said whether the driver of the SUV, a man in his 90s, will face charges.