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Edmonton police say driver was high during fatal Mill Woods collision last fall

WATCH ABOVE: Police have laid charged in connection with a deadly crash in Edmonton after they say toxicology tests revealed the presence of marijuana in a driver's body. Sarah Kraus reports.

Edmonton police say a driver being high on pot led to a fatal collision in Mill Woods last fall that claimed the life of a woman, and now charges have been laid.

According to Const. Braydon Lawrence with the EPS impaired driving unit, this is the first time a driver has been charged with impaired driving causing death where the impairment is believed to have been caused by cannabis.

The collision, involving two vehicles and a scooter on Mill Woods Road between 38 Avenue and 85 Street, happened Friday, Sept. 14, 2018 at around 10 a.m.

READ MORE: Fatal collision shuts down Mill Woods Road in southeast Edmonton

Police said a 58-year-old woman was riding a Suzuki scooter south on Mill Woods Road when she was struck by a northbound dark blue GMC Terrain that reportedly crossed the centre line.

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The scooter was thrown in front of a Toyota Rav4 travelling behind the GMC SUV.

A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News

Meanwhile, police said the GMC Terrain continued driving north in the southbound lanes, hitting a crosswalk sign before crashing into a power box on the west side of the road.

A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018.
A section of Mill Woods Road near 38A Avenue in southeast Edmonton was closed by police Friday morning after a fatal multi-collision involving two SUVs and a scooter. September 14, 2018. Global News

The 58-year-old woman died of her injuries at the scene. The 45-year-old man driving the Terrain and the 50-year-old woman behind the wheel of the Rav4 were not hurt.

The crash happened on a section of the road adjacent to both Edith Rogers School and a large rental complex, just down the street from Millbourne Market Mall.

READ MORE: Drug impairment a factor in fatal north Edmonton collision: police

Edmonton police said on Friday that following a thorough investigation, it was determined that impairment by cannabis was a contributing factor in the collision.

Lawrence didn’t respond to the collision last year, but said he was at the detachment when the suspect was brought in for impairment testing. The 12-step evaluation is used across the country and the U.S. and utilizes various cognitive tests as well as medical ones.

“It determines whether that person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle is impaired, and then it also determines what category of drug that person is impaired under.”

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On Wednesday, Rakesh Sidhu, 45, was arrested and charged with impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death.

The identity of the victim was not released.

READ MORE: Edmonton police shut down illegal cannabis shop, urge businesses to stop rogue sales

Last year, Edmonton police were involved in 39 cannabis-related impaired driving investigations. This year, they have been involved in nine. Charges haven’t been laid in them yet as police are waiting for results from the RCMP lab in Ottawa.

“It’s not just us they’re dealing with, it’s the whole country, so we just wait on them.”

After cannabis was legalized last fall, Edmonton police launched a program that attempted to educate drivers that impairment is the same whether it’s caused by legal cannabis, illegal drugs, or alcohol.

“If you don’t feel like you’re able to operate a motor vehicle, I would suggest that you didn’t,” Williams said.

Sidhu was released on bail and is expected in court on April 10.

– With files from Kirby Bourne, 630 CHED

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