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A bride-to-be faces months of reconstructive facial surgery after her right cheek was torn away by a chunk of concrete that police believe was deliberately thrown from a highway overpass.

Despite a heavily swollen face marred by numerous cuts inflicted when the brick-sized projectile smashed through her car's windshield, Nadia McLean of Courtice, Ont., has vowed to go forward with her July wedding.

"If you would have seen the piece of the face that was missing," said her father Andrew McLean. "One more exit and they were home. The old heart just wants to explode - that's how much it hurts."

Ms. McLean, 28, was driving her brother and three friends home from a wedding around 2 a.m. last Sunday along Highway 401 in Oshawa, Ont., some 60 kilometres east of Toronto, when she saw what she thought was a man about to jump from the overpass, Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Cam Woolley said Friday.

"She saw him raise his hand and the next thing she knew, she was unconscious," Sgt. Woolley said.

The concrete chunk - weighing about a kilogram - punched a hole through the windshield of her new Volkswagen as it travelled down the highway at some 100 kilometres an hour.

The car veered into the guardrail, but her brother Eric McLean, 26, scrambled from the back seat to grab the steering wheel and managed to stop the car by using the hand brake, their father said.

"He said, 'Dad, I thought she was dead because I could see inside her face,' " said the 55-year-old Sudbury, Ont., financial planner as he choked back tears.

Ms. McLean's fiancé, Gabriel Gagnon, 28, said the couple will not change their July 15 wedding date, despite her substantial trauma.

"She was asking why, why someone would do this," said Gagnon, who added Ms. McLean was discharged Thursday from Toronto's Sunnybrook Hospital.

"This is our society today. You've got all kinds of crazy people walking around."

Police first believed the concrete accidentally fell from the overpass, but Woolley said investigators are now certain it was deliberately thrown.

"We found bits and pieces of concrete up near a railway pass several hundred metres from the highway, so it became obvious that somebody had picked up this piece of concrete and brought it to the overpass and then dropped it," Sgt. Woolley said.

He said the person responsible for the near-fatal act likely lives in the area, and speculated it could have been someone walking home from a bar.

"I'm hoping, frankly, that whoever did this may have bragged to a friend," Sgt. Woolley said in his appeal for anyone with information to come forward to police.

Ms. McLean is helping investigators reconstruct the event, her father said.

"She's a strong girl," he said. "The medication kind of dulls the pain a little bit, but you can see there's a lot of pain underneath that."

He said he can't understand why anyone would do such a dangerous thing.

"It could have caused the loss of two of my children," Mr. McLean said. "All I know is that person, I don't think he had any children, because if he did, he would know how it feels."

A recent similar incident in Canada resulted in death.

An Edmonton bus driver was killed in June 2002 by a 14-kilogram rock that smashed through his windshield and crushed his chest. Two 18-year-olds who were 15 at the time of the alleged crime were charged last October with manslaughter.

In 1999, an 18-year old Ontario student travelling through North Carolina with his father lost an eye and suffered severe facial and skull damage after a 23-kilogram rock tore through the roof of their vehicle.