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Parents of 3-month-old baby killed in wrong-way Highway 401 crash also hurt

Click to play video: 'Fresh details emerge about deadly, wrong-way collision on Ontario’s Highway 401'
Fresh details emerge about deadly, wrong-way collision on Ontario’s Highway 401
WATCH: Fresh details emerge about deadly, wrong-way collision on Ontario's Highway 401 – May 2, 2024

The parents of a three-month-old boy who died in a crash on Highway 401 in Whitby this week were also in the car at the time of the wreck, Ontario’s police watchdog says.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said in an update Thursday the parents – a 33-year-old father and 27-year-old mother, who live in Ajax – were both taken to hospital, and the mother was treated for serious injuries.

The baby’s grandparents, a 60-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman, also died in the crash. They were visiting from India, the SIU added.

Click to play video: 'SIU called in after fatal police pursuit involving death of infant, grandparents on Highway 401'
SIU called in after fatal police pursuit involving death of infant, grandparents on Highway 401

The crash, which took place Monday evening, stemmed from an LCBO robbery in Clarington, Ont., that saw Durham Regional Police officers chasing the suspect on the wrong side of the highway.

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The SIU, which investigates the conduct of officers in serious incidents, including those that have resulted in death, is now probing the incident.

The incident began at around 7:50 p.m. Monday when Durham police officers were notified by an off-duty officer of a robbery at the LCBO.

Officers found a vehicle of interest — a U-Haul cargo van — and followed the van through numerous streets in Durham “as the vehicle drove erratically,” SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon said Tuesday.

Click to play video: 'SIU investigating Highway 401 crash that left 4 dead, including infant'
SIU investigating Highway 401 crash that left 4 dead, including infant

She said the vehicle got on Highway 401 at Stevenson Road in Oshawa in the wrong direction and was travelling westbound in the eastbound lanes.

Video circulating online showed at least one Durham police cruiser chasing the van heading the wrong way on Highway 401.

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Hudon said shortly after, at around 8:10 p.m., there was a multi-vehicle collision involving at least six vehicles just east of Highway 412 in Whitby.

A 21-year-old man, who the SIU said was driving the U-Haul van, died at the scene while a 38-year-old man, who was a passenger, was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Law requires police to weigh public risks in car chases: lawyer

Daniel Brown, a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer, told The Canadian Press earlier this week police in Ontario are required by law to weigh risks to the public before engaging in a high-speed chase.

“And this law requires the police to disengage when the risks outweigh the rewards,” he said.

Brown said police also need to consider alternatives available before starting a high-speed pursuit of a vehicle and need to consider the suspect and the kind of alleged crime involved.

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Click to play video: 'Ford calls deadly Highway 401 crash a ‘tragedy,’ says high-speed chases should be avoided'
Ford calls deadly Highway 401 crash a ‘tragedy,’ says high-speed chases should be avoided

In the case of what happened Monday night, given that the alleged crime was a liquor store robbery, Brown argued that police “put everyone in harm’s way by engaging this particular pursuit on one of Canada’s busiest highways.”

“They simply either underestimated the risk to the public or failed to consider the risk to the public when they engaged in this high-speed chase,” he said.

“It’s a tragic situation and this is something that could have been entirely prevented.”

Click to play video: 'Former Toronto cop weighs in on Highway 401 crash, police policy around chases'
Former Toronto cop weighs in on Highway 401 crash, police policy around chases

Global News crime analyst Hank Idsinga said on Tuesday that “a lot has to be really dissected by the SIU for this case.”

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“Had any emergency equipment been activated? Was there an attempt to stop it and it failed to stop? We just don’t know that yet,” he said.

“There’s no doubt once it was on the 401, definitely a pursuit was engaged. We’ve seen the footage from it with the suspect vehicle going along the 401 at an extremely high rate of speed, and police vehicles following shortly after with their lights and sirens going.”

Click to play video: 'Part of Highway 401 closed after deadly crash in Durham Region'
Part of Highway 401 closed after deadly crash in Durham Region

Durham police said in a statement Tuesday the service was limited in what it can say due to the SIU investigation.

“This incident has had a profound impact on our community and our members,” the statement said.

“We understand there are many questions, however there is a legislated process regarding investigations conducted by the SIU that our service must adhere to. DRPS is fully cooperating with the SIU and as such are unable to make a public statement on this incident.”

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Anyone who may have information about the investigation, including video or photos, is asked to contact the SIU.

— with files from Ryan Rocca and Gabby Rodrigues

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