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Police identify suspect in alleged hit-and-run that injured toddler

Toronto police say they have identified the alleged driver in a hit-and-run that badly injured a toddler, his mother and his grandmother over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

Sgt. Murray Campbell says officers are seeking a warrant for the arrest of 35-year-old Derek Desousa, whose whereabouts are unknown.

He says they are also looking to identify a man who was a passenger in the vehicle and is considered a person of interest in the case.

Officers have said a grey SUV ran a red light on Sunday, mounting the sidewalk and hitting the family, who were standing on the curb.

They said the child’s stroller was smashed to pieces and the car’s front licence plate was dislodged in the impact.

Police said the three people struck — a 57-year-old woman, a 37-year-old woman and a 20-month-old boy — were seriously injured.

The boy’s injuries were initially considered life-threatening but Murray said Tuesday the child is expected to recover.

“He suffered a head injury and the prognosis is not known at this time,” he said in an email.

Police earlier released images of a man they said abandoned the vehicle in the city’s East York neighbourhood.

Toronto’s mayor said Tuesday there is nothing the city could have done to prevent the crash, noting the family members were “doing what they were supposed to do” — standing on the sidewalk, waiting their turn to cross the street — when they were struck.

John Tory added no government initiative could have stopped somebody driving in what he called “erratic circumstances.”

“It was a tragedy and I’m terribly sorry about it and I’m glad everybody seems to be recovering, but in this case it was not people who were crossing the street, they were standing on the curb,” he said Tuesday. 

Tory vowed earlier this year to lower speed limits and crack down on motorists who break traffic laws in an effort to reduce the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the city.

The measures are part of an updated plan presented to city council over the summer, which also includes other traffic-calming efforts such as changes to road design and additional crossings.

Pedestrian deaths reached a 10-year high in 2016, with 44 pedestrians killed that year. That number dropped slightly to 41 last year.

This report by The Canadian Press was originally published on Oct. 15, 2019.

 

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press