Daughter shares her grief following investigation into Edmonton crash that killed her father and stepmother
The daughter of an innocent Edmonton couple killed when a stolen truck collided with their vehicle is urging people to “keep your loved ones close.”
Ken Ahronson, 64, and Stella Constantin, 62, died in July 2017 after a stolen truck that had previously been followed by police drove the wrong way off the Whitemud and crashed into their vehicle.
Ahronson and Constantin had been common-law partners for the last 25 years.
Ahronson left behind a daughter and a son, while Constantin left behind 11 brothers and sisters.
Davina Cassie, Ahronson’s daughter and Constantin’s stepdaughter, says the pair were very close.
“They called each other their person,” Cassie said. “They were always there for each other. Good, bad, ugly — they were always there for each other.
“They had big hearts.”
She said the couple were always quick with jokes and keen to help others.
Ahronson was very involved at the St. Albert Bowling Lanes. Cassie said he was a coach and loved teaching kids the sport.
To this day, her whole family are avid bowlers.
On Wednesday, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team released its findings into the crash, saying police did not cause the couple’s death.
“The stolen truck headed east onto Whitemud Drive at an estimated speed of 100 km/hr,” ASIRT said. “When police radioed in that the truck had crossed the centre line and entered the opposing lane, the ranking officer in command at the time ordered all EPS units to discontinue the pursuit.
“As required, all the police vehicles pulled over onto the side of the road and deactivated their emergency equipment.”
Soon after, ASIRT said the stolen truck exited Whitemud using the off-ramp for Anthony Henday Drive — going the wrong direction — and collided head-on with Ahronson and Constantin’s vehicle.
“It was a big shock,” Cassie said. “Our family took it pretty hard. I guess the hardest part for me was [that] I had watched it happen on the news at 11 p.m., and I didn’t even clue in.
“I said to my husband at the time that it was shocking. I just prayed for the family, right? It’s a horrible incident.
“Not even a few hours later, I think it was 5 a.m., my brother showed up at my door. It was one of those things were I just clued in, ‘Oh my gosh, it was actually them.’
“I kind of dropped to my knees at that point.”
While Ahronson died on scene, Constantin was taken to hospital and placed on life-support. Cassie and her brother rushed to the hospital to support her.
After lots of prayers, the families opted to take Constantin off life-support.
Cassie stayed with her stepmom until she took her final breath.
“I needed to be there for her and I needed her to know that we were there and Dad was waiting for her and it was OK to go.”
All four occupants of the truck fled the scene on foot after the crash — none of them were injured.
The driver, 32-year-old Zachary James Grogan, was charged with two counts each of failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving death, flight from a peace officer causing death, dangerous driving causing death and one count of possession of stolen property over $5,000.
He is due to be sentenced in court on May 31. Cassie said following the court cases has been exceptionally challenging.
“You kind of forget how things had happened until you get there and you have to go in,” she said. “It’s like reliving that moment all over again.
“It’s been a tough couple years and we’re just looking forward to it finally being over so we can finally just rest and move on.”
She accepts ASIRT’s findings and doesn’t blame police for what happened. She feels somewhat differently about Grogan.
“I do forgive, but at this point, I’d never forget,” Cassie said.
“I found it very selfish and stupid.”
Cassie said the Crown is pushing for a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison.
“I don’t think that’s asking a lot.”
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