A family is in mourning after a baby seriously injured in a collision involving a pick-up truck that was allegedly fleeing police in Winnipeg’s North End in late September died early Wednesday.
The 10-month-old boy’s mother, Jennifer Dethmers, was killed after a pick-up truck that police said was fleeing a traffic stop around 1:30 p.m. Sept. 26 near Salter Street and Boyd Avenue hit another vehicle in the nearby intersection of Andrews Street and Boyd Avenue.
Four people in the van that was struck — including the infant boy AJ Dethmers and a child — were sent to hospital in either serious or critical condition, as were the two men in the fleeing vehicle.
Jennifer’s mother and AJ’s grandmother Candy Volk spoke to media through tears Wednesday, while smudge filled the air outside of a home on Furby Street in Winnipeg’s West End, where the family has gathered to burn a sacred fire for four days and nights.
“I was in the room when he was born and he took his first breath and entered our lives and early this morning I held him in my arms and he took his last breath,” Volk said.
Volk was distraught, held by a family member while wearing a shirt emblazoned with the faces of her daughter and grandson.
“Her world revolved around that little baby, she loved him so much and she was such a good mommy to him. I don’t know how I’m going to go on, I don’t know what to do,” Volk said.
“This isn’t fair, this isn’t right, he was just a baby.”
Winnipeg police arrested a 43-year-old man shortly after the collision.
Armand Joseph Jr. Chartrand, who was taken into custody, is charged with dangerous operation of a conveyance causing death, four counts of dangerous operation of a conveyance, causing death by criminal negligence, four counts of causing bodily harm by criminal negligence, driving while suspended and driving without insurance.
Police are now working with Manitoba Justice “in relation to new charges against the accused,” a Winnipeg Police Service employee said in an email Wednesday confirming the baby’s death.
“Incredibly tragic, we’ve got an infant in the vehicle, a child in the vehicle, a woman who was killed in this crash, tragic all around,” said Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Rob Carver on the day of the collision.
The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates serious incidents involving police, has been called to investigate the circumstances of the incident, but on the day of the collision, Carver stressed that police were not pursuing the vehicle as it fled the traffic stop before striking the van carrying Dethmers, her children and partner.
“We pulled up, we attempted to have this vehicle spoken to, and the vehicle fled. We did not pursue it,” Carver said at the time.