SIU Concludes Investigation into Fatal Accident in Thorold
Case Number: 07-OVD-205
Other News Releases Related to Case 07-OVD-205
The SIU assigned seven investigators, three forensic identification technicians and one collision reconstructionist to investigate this incident. The SIU designated four officers from the NRPS as witness officers and two as subject officers.
The SIU investigation determined that on October 10, 2007 at 11:00 p.m., officers of the NRPS were searching for a Chevrolet Avalanche that had been stolen from the lot of a Niagara Falls lounge. During the investigation the officers determined that the stolen Avalanche went westbound on Highway 20 followed by a black Hummer.
Two officers, each in their own police cars went westbound on Highway 20. A short time later they observed the Hummer and the Avalanche stopped in traffic on Highway 20 at the lift bridge over the Welland canal in Thorold. The traffic was stopped because the bridge was up. One officer activated his police car's emergency equipment. When he did, the Hummer pulled out of the line of traffic and went southbound on Centre Street at a high rate of speed.
The other officer pulled alongside the Avalanche. The Avalanche immediately turned left and struck the police car. The officer moved his car across Centre Street in an attempt to block the Avalanche. The Avalanche continued driving and struck the police car again. The Avalanche then drove off at a high rate of speed southbound on Centre Street. Both officers went southbound on Centre Street after the Avalanche and the Hummer.
The driver of the Hummer continued on Centre Street and lost control of it at the intersection of Centre Street and Barron Road. (Centre Street runs south from Highway 20 and ends at Barron Road. To access Barron Road from southbound Centre Street a 90-degree left turn is required.) The Hummer left the road and struck a tree. The Avalanche fled east on Barron Road away from the area. The pursuit of the black Hummer lasted less than 30 seconds and traversed one-half kilometre.
The 15-year-old driver of the Hummer sustained serious chest and internal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger in the Hummer, an 18-year-old man, sustained serious lower body injuries. However, he managed to exit the Hummer and elude the police until the following day.
The SIU examined the involved police cars as well as the Hummer and Avalanche and canvassed all residents of the area. The provincial policing standard in relation to vehicle pursuits was scrutinized and all involved officers were interviewed.
Director Cornish concluded, "In my view the officers in this case were engaged in the lawful execution of their duties in attempting to apprehend this young man. The fact that the pursuit was so brief and covered such a short distance is significant in that the officers had not (nor had the Communication Branch) discerned any obvious risk to the public that dictated the termination of the pursuit prior to the collision occurring. The officers' driving fell well within the limits prescribed by the criminal law."
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
- report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.