News Local

Two dead in Orillia crash

By Sara Carson, Orillia Packet & Times

A mangled blue Honda, shattered into pieces, was scattered on the side of Memorial Avenue in Orillia Tuesday morning, a grim reminder of a horrific crash that killed two people from eastern Ontario.

The two people died after being thrown from the wreckage just after 4 a.m., Jon Ansell, investigator with Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said on Tuesday.

In the wake of the grisly crash, grass was churned up and a cement curb was smashed where the car drove off Memorial Avenue.

A 28-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman were killed when the driver lost control of the car and struck a hydro pole following a police pursuit on Highway 11, Ansell said.

Barrie OPP attempted to stop a car that was travelling north on Highway 11 in Oro-Medonte Township at 4:17 a.m., but the driver refused to stop and continued north on Highway 11.

"Members of the Barrie detachment of the OPP attempted to stop a car on Highway 11 near Barrie for erratic driving," Ansell said.

Police set out a spike belt as the car approached Line 15 in Oro-Medonte.

"A spike belt was deployed and made contact with the car, but that was some miles from the final scene," Ansell said.

Asked if the spike belt caused the car to crash, Ansell replied, "We just knew it ran over it."

The car continued north before exiting at Memorial Avenue in Orillia.

The SIU says the initial chase began with two officers from Barrie OPP in single cars who were later assisted by three Orillia OPP units "at the end of it," Ansell said.

Due to the area and speed of the suspect car, the OPP ceased following the car, states an OPP media release. But police did not specify at what point they stopped their pursuit.

However, a YouTube video posted Tuesday morning shows cruisers following a car along Memorial Avenue through the Highway 12 intersection. In the video, the fleeing car's rims can be heard screeching along the road.

Two police cars follow not far behind while seven more trail from various directions.

Frank Phillips, communications co-ordinator with SIU, says the SIU is still trying to determine when the police stopped pursuing the car.

"We'll be doing interviews and retracing the route trying to find out exactly what we can find out. There have been no conclusions made by our investigators certainly yet."

There is provincial legislation governing suspect apprehensions and this will be taken into account during the investigation, Phillips said.

The SIU had a team of seven investigators and three forensic investigators on scene on Tuesday.

The unit has designated one Barrie OPP officer as a subject officer and five others as witnesses, Ansell said.

"We haven't been able to speak to the OPP officers yet. We are arranging those meetings. We will have much more information after that."

The SIU is trying to gather audio recordings between dispatchers and other car recording devices.

An accident reconstructionist will be taking information from the black boxes of the suspect car and police cruisers "to get some estimate of speed," Ansell said.

They will be looking into the cars speed, distances travelled, the number of officers involved and devices used to slow down the car, Phillips said.

There accident reconstructionists will be able to put together "exactly what happened."

The SIU knows the car continued north on Memorial Avenue, lost control and struck a hydro pole.

The two occupants were ejected from the car.

Both occupants were transported to Orillia Soldiers' Memorial Hospital from the collision scene and both were pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.

Memorial Avenue was closed from Barrie Road to James Street while the SIU investigated the scene.

Motorists were advised to stay away from the area.

An OPP helicopter with police and SIU members flew over the scene late Tuesday morning taking photographs.

The car is being sent to the Centre of Forensics Sciences in Toronto. Autopsies will take place there on Wednesday.

Asked if there could be another cause to the police chase besides erratic driving, Ansell responded: "We will be obtaining some biological samples from the hospital on both deceased to determine if any contraband was in the blood stream or not."

The names have not been released, as next of kin have not been located for either person, Ansell said.

"We have investigators out in the Eastern region now, quite a few of them, looking for next of kin."

Anyone who may have information regarding this case is asked to contact the Special Investigations Unit at 416-622-2290 or 1-800-787-8529 extension 2290.

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