‘Someone’s going to get hurt’: OPP scanner audio details fatal wrong-way crash on Hwy. 401

According to dispatch audio, OPP officers raised concerns about a wrong-way police chase on the 401 moments before a fatal multi-vehicle collision. Erica Natividad with whether Durham Regional Police may have broken protocol in pursuing the vehicle.

A police radio recording is shedding new details of a wrong-way chase on Highway 401 moments before four people were killed in the multi-vehicle collision in Whitby.

The scanner audio comes from the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Highway Safety Division communication channel. An officer is heard saying, “Someone is going to get hurt,” after observing a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction on Highway 401, which stemmed from authorities pursuing a suspect who allegedly fled from a liquor store robbery.

The driver of a U-Haul van crashed into another vehicle on the highway, resulting in the deaths of four people, including grandparents and their infant grandchild. The suspect was also killed.

“I just want to make sure Durham’s sergeant is aware they’re driving in the opposite direction. Someone is going to get hurt,” the OPP officer is heard saying on the police scanner recording.

The audio also reveals details of the LCBO robbery in progress, with an OPP dispatcher alleging the male suspect was armed with a knife. She broadcasts that there appeared to be a dozen Durham Regional Police cruisers in pursuit of the suspect on Highway 401.

“He pulled a knife on the off-duty officer [and] left in a vehicle.”

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was called to investigate the incident as Durham police were involved. The SIU investigates incidents involving officials where there is a serious injury, death, allegation of sexual assault or discharge of a firearm by an official at a person. 

Questions raised over Durham police’s highway pursuit of suspect

Ontario’s Community Safety and Policing Act, which was introduced in April, states, in part, that an officer must not initiate a vehicle pursuit unless “the risk to public safety that may result from the pursuit is outweighed by the risk to public safety if an individual in the fleeing motor vehicle is not immediately apprehended.”

It also states that an officer must first determine that no alternatives can be readily implemented.

“During a vehicle pursuit, a police officer or Niagara Parks constable shall continually reassess the determination of the risk to public safety made under subsection two,” the act states.

The driver of a U-Haul van crashed into another vehicle on Highway 401, resulting in the deaths of four people, including grandparents and their infant grandchild. The suspect, who allegedly attempted to rob an LCBO, was also killed.

Patrick G. Watson, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of Toronto, says police officers are trained to use their best judgment.

“I really believe that this should be a case that gets a thorough public hearing and gets public reaction,” Watson said. “So that we can understand more clearly whether or not this fits within the balance of policing and that the police are meeting their obligations to us.”

Durham Regional Police have declined to comment, citing the SIU’s leading of the case.

The crash closed Highway 401 between Lake Ridge Road/County Road 23 and Brock Street in the eastbound lanes for over 12 hours but reopened just after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today