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Calgary officers cleared after drunk driver flees traffic stop, hits and kills pedestrians

Calgary police tape cordons off the scene of a deadly crash on 17th Avenue S.W. on Dec. 12, 2020.  Calgary police tape cordons off the scene of a deadly crash on 17th Avenue S.W. on Dec. 12, 2020.
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Alberta's police watchdog has cleared two Calgary Police Service (CPS) officers of any wrongdoing in their dealings with a speeding drunk driver who hit and killed two pedestrians in the city's southwest.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) released the results of an investigation into the deadly crash on Friday.

It happened in the intersection of 17th Avenue and 85th Street S.W. on the evening of Dec. 12, 2020. 

According to ASIRT, police had received numerous calls about a vehicle travelling erratically and at high speed on westbound 17 Avenue S.W.

Shortly after, two officers in a marked CPS cruiser saw the silver Acura sedan speed by them at the intersection of 17th Avenue and 45th Street S.W.

The CPS cruiser was being driven by a junior officer who was being mentored by a coach officer seated in the front passenger seat, an arrangement ASIRT noted is a "normal part" of a junior officer’s training.

The officers followed the speeding sedan along 17th Avenue but didn't travel at "excessive speeds" in order to catch up with it. 

They pulled up behind the Acura at a red light in the intersection of 69th Street S.W.

Once the light turned green, the officers turned on their lights to stop the driver.

"The silver Acura sedan initially came to a stop in the right hand lane, but only remained stationary for approximately nine seconds and then fled at a high rate of speed," ASIRT said.

The officers used their radios to communicate that the driver had "taken off" and continued driving on 17th Avenue S.W. at a normal rate of speed, eventually coming upon a collision in the intersection of 85th Street S.W.

As they got out of their vehicle to investigate, the officers discovered the Acura had hit two pedestrians before travelling down an embankment, coming to rest on its side near a storm drain.

The pedestrians were pronounced dead at the scene.

Flowers have been laid at the scene of a fatal pedestrian incident in Calgary. Police were reportedly conducting an investigation of a suspect when the driver sped off and struck two people.ASIRT said the pair were "engaged to be married” and had "been out for a walk that evening."

The driver of the Acura, who was travelling approximately 200 km/h, was still in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, breathing but unconscious.

He was rushed to the hospital where he died from his injuries a few days later.

ASIRT noted his blood alcohol level was determined to be four times the legal driving limit.

In its report, ASIRT concluded that while the crash was "tragic," the two CPS officers involved were not to blame and should actually "be commended" for their actions prior to the fatal collision.

"As witnessed on the various recording devices, there was proper and intelligent communication between the coach officer and the junior officer," ASIRT said.

"Throughout the interaction with the Acura the junior officer sought guidance from the coach officer and the coach officer provided clear instruction to the junior officer, including the direction to not purse the Acura when it fled the traffic stop.”

ASIRT said while the decisions made didn't prevent the Acura from hitting the pedestrians, if they had engaged in a pursuit, it may have caused the Acura driver to travel even faster and more erratically.

ASIRT said the two people who were killed had the right of way on the crosswalk they were using, which was at a controlled intersection.

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