A Penticton toddler is dead after an off-duty Penticton RCMP officer struck the young pedestrian crossing the road on Tuesday at the intersection of Fairview Road (Green Mountain Road) and Highway 97 on the Channel Parkway
James Christian McIntosh was a Grade 1 student at Holy Cross School investigators initially reported he was four years old but the Western News has since found out he was five.
“He was a beautiful young man. He could be intense at times, he had a great focus about him, full of energy, boundless energy really,” said Shawn Campbell, principal of Holy Cross School. “He was one of the kids that everybody liked, he was a kid who just wanted to be a kid and learn.”
A School District 67 crisis team sent staff to classrooms to assist teachers and students. Parents with counselling experience have also offered their assistance.
The announcement was made to students Wednesday and a prayer service was held at the school with priests from Penticton and Summerland.
“It was a beautiful ceremony and I think it helps the kids to adjust and to accept what has happened,” Campbell said.
Counsellors will stay on hand for students and teachers as well as bereavement services for those who need it.
Several teddy bears and a dozen red roses were left at the intersection on Sept. 16. One of the cards attached to the large white bear read: “Fly with the angels now Jamesy. You are loved” and the other was from a mother of three: “My heart breaks for your (family’s) loss… my thoughts are with you in this time of tragedy.”
The Penticton RCMP officer who was driving the vehicle has been identified in other media, however his name has not been released by police and he has not been charged in this stage of the investigation. he is a veteran member with more than 20 years of service in the force and has been recognized for his work on several occasions.
According to Ralph Krenz, media spokesperson for the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), the driver of the vehicle was turning southbound on the Channel Parkway from Green Mountain Road when the incident happened.
Krenz said the boy and his father were in the crosswalk at the time of the collision.
The IIO spokesperson was asked at a late-morning press conference Sept 16 at the scene whether alcohol was involved and if the officer was in custody.
“Any and all factors in relation to the driver will be lines of inquiry for the investigation and I don’t have that information at this time. Obviously if that did come up that would be something we would inquire further on,” said Krenz, adding there are seven investigators currently working on the matter. “What I can tell you, in a general sense, is when an officer may be facing potential liability they have the right to silence as any citizen so the officer would make the decision based on legal advice.”
Emergency personnel including fire and police initially converged at the scene of the incident and McIntosh was taken to Penticton Regional Hospital and died.
IIO employees are currently investigating the incident and further resources including extra investigators and a manager of affected persons to assist the family arrived the morning of Sept. 16 from Surrey after being notified of the incident by the Penticton RCMP around 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
“At this point in time we are calling for witnesses who may have seen anything. This is a busy intersection at approximately 5 p.m. (Tuesday),” said Krenz “I think there are people out there who might have seen something that we are not aware of, or haven’t spoken to.”
The IIO is asking anyone who may have witnessed anything relating to the incident to contact their witness reporting line at 1-855-466-8477.
“We’re still trying to identify those key elements, obviously those will be the subject of further investigation,” Krenz said.
The investigation was initially started by the RCMP at the time of the incident, but has been handed over to the IIO.
“Where there is a situation involving serious harm or death and it’s the actions of a police officer involved, either on or off duty, police services in this province are required to notify the Independent Investigations Office,” Krenz said. “Once we’re notified, the IIO has jurisdiction until the Chief Civilian Director decides not to continue on with the investigations.”
Krenz was unable to confirm whether a reported black pick-up truck was related to the incident, however he said the vehicle involved would likely be seized for further analysis.
-With files from Mark Brett/Penticton Western News