May 20, 2013 11:28 am
Updated: May 21, 2013 6:28 am

UPDATE: Edmonton man charged after patio collision kills young boy

Crash at southwest Edmonton restaurant patio Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dean Twardzik, Global News
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EDMONTON – An Edmonton man is facing several impaired driving-related charges after his vehicle crashed into a restaurant patio, killing a two-year-old boy Sunday evening.

Police were called to the Ric’s Grill in Terwillegar near 142 Street and 23 Avenue around 7:45 p.m.

Investigators believe an Acura MDX drove through the restaurant patio and hit a family of four eating at a table. The two-year-old boy was pinned to a wall.

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“A vehicle entered the parking stall right adjacent to where they were sitting, then accelerated rapidly; crashing through the glass barrier and literally running over the whole family,” said EPS Inspector Brian Nowlan.

“We heard a crash and a lot of screaming,” recalls Shaun Zarney, the restaurant’s manager.

Visibly shaken, Zarney recounts the events of Sunday evening.

“When I came outside and I saw the child I knew it wasn’t going to be good.”

“My thoughts; there was no way the child would make it. The damage was too severe,” he explained, his voice cracking with emotion.

“A little boy was pinned up against the wall. Fortunately, a few of my customers helped move the van off the boy. I had a doctor also in the restaurant who came out and started performing CPR on the little boy to try to revive and do what he could to save his life.”

The father and the other child – who is one-year-old – suffered minor injuries. Police say the mother was not physically injured.

“The mother and father were definitely in a state that I can’t even describe to you,” shared Zarney.

Nowlan says fellow patrons as well as restaurant staff tried to help the victims by giving first aid.

“A lot of them participated in the application of first aid, and a lot of them are in shock, so we’re treating them as well.”

All four family members were taken to hospital, where the two-year-old passed away.

The 62-year-old male driver of the Acura was arrested at the scene.  The driver and his female passenger were not injured.

Richard Suter has been charged with one count each of impaired operation causing death and refuse demand causing death (refusing to provide a breath sample). He’s also been charged with two counts of impaired operation causing bodily harm.

Suter is remanded into custody until his first court appearance Tuesday, May 21.

“We’re a hundred metres from any roadway here,” added Nowlan. “You think if you’re not safe sitting on a patio on a nice night like this having dinner, where are you safe? It’s very unusual.”

Ric’s Grill was closed Monday, but several neighbours stopped by to leave flowers and stuffed animals at the scene.

For some, the tragedy hits too close to home.

“It really hit a nerve because I have a little girl,” admitted Elizabeth Newstaeter. “I feel like it could have been us. This is my neighbourhood, this is where I live, this is where I could have been yesterday. It’s very heartbreaking, it’s very sad,” she added, cradling her baby girl. “I’m holding her a little closer today.”

“It hurts really bad in your heart,” said 12-year-old Ashley Rowsell. “I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s just really sad.”

Ashley and her mother decided to drop off a teddy bear and flowers at the restaurant for the little boy who was killed.

“He was a little boy and teddy bear’s kind of what he would have had and flowers to show respect and sympathy,” she explained.

Zarney is also extending sympathies on behalf of his staff.

“The owners the management the staff of Ric’s Grill, our thoughts and prayers, condolences to the family.”

With files from Jenna Bridges

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