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July 16, 2001

Mother had restraining order at time of 401 ordeal

Baby dangled from SUV

Brad Mackay
National Post

A woman accused of holding her 18-month-old daughter out the window of a speeding SUV driven by her husband was under a restraining order to stay away from the two family members, police said yesterday.

Thi Phuong Dang, 26, of Toronto, had the order placed on her two weeks ago after she was charged with uttering threats and assaulting her husband.

Ms. Dang moved to Toronto last year to be with her husband, who police would not identify, shortly after the couple married nine months ago in their native Vietnam.

Her 37-year-old husband had decided to ignore the order -- requiring her to stay at least 200 metres away from the family -- when his estranged wife appeared at his home Saturday in the Eglinton Avenue and Keele Street area, police said.

"He was actually trying to do her a favour by taking her shopping," OPP Constable John DeSousa said yesterday. "He knew she had no family in the city. He was trying to be a nice guy."

She now faces additional charges of failure to provide the necessities of life to a child, two counts of breach of recognizance (for defying the restraining order) and a common nuisance charge for causing a crash.

Her husband was driving his Jeep Grand Cherokee east on the 401 around 3 p.m. Saturday when the couple began arguing.

They may have been fighting over the girl's custody, which had recently been granted to the father, Const. DeSousa said

As the vehicle approached Islington Avenue, Ms. Dang, who was in the back seat with her daughter, rolled down the left rear window. Police allege she pushed the girl's upper body outside the vehicle which was travelling at around 100 km/h

Fearing she may be dropped, drivers of nearby vehicles swerved to avoid her path. Two cars collided but the passengers in each vehicle were not injured.

With the child's head and waist dangling into traffic, the husband managed to slow down and pull safely onto the side of the collector lanes. The child was not dropped or injured in the incident.

The passengers of the vehicles involved in the collisions, along with several other witnesses, followed the SUV onto the shoulder of the road in an attempt to help.

Police said the husband tried to retrieve his daughter from Ms. Dang but was blocked by some witnesses who believed he was trying to kidnap the girl.

A tow truck driver reportedly took the girl into his vehicle for protection until police arrived. Ms. Dang will face a bail hearing at College Park Court this morning.

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