Police say they are looking into the possibility that a crash that killed a 15-year-old girl on Highway 40 in Québec was caused by an illegal street race. While officers say much remains to be proven, some car enthusiasts are already pointing fingers at a particular group.
The crash took place on Highway 40 eastbound just after 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, near Saint Charles Boulevard.
“We had four people sent to the hospital, two of them with major injuries, and unfortunately, a 15-year-old girl who died from her injuries,” explained Sûreté du Québec spokesperson Stephane Tremblay.
Fifteen-year-old Veronika Gashi was killed in the crash.
“She was someone who would love very hard. She was always there for me and for her other friends,” said Raphaelle Grimard, who told Global News she had been friends with Gashi since kindergarten.
According to Grimard, Gashi was with a friend in a car that had pulled onto the shoulder to assist some other motorists. That’s when two other cars collided while speeding down the highway, one of them violently crashing into the car Gashi was sitting in. Grimard said Gashi’s friend had told her to stay in the car while he tried to help the other motorists, telling her it was too dangerous to go outside as the passenger seat she occupied was facing the highway.
“We still have a man in his 20s that is considered a suspect in that event who is still in the hospital. He will meet with the investigators when his health condition will improve,” said Tremblay.
Tremblay said investigators are looking into the possibility that street racing could have caused the fatal collision. Grimard said both Gashi and the driver of the car she was in have no relation with street racing, and often drove around the city while spending time together. Both worked at a Tim Hortons’ in Candiac.
Montreal police said there was a gathering of modified cars at Fairview Pointe-Claire on Saturday afternoon, a few hours before the collision. The SQ said another car gathering took place in a parking lot in Vaudreuil Saturday.
While nothing has been proven, some members of Montreal’s modified car community are blaming a particular group of adrenaline seekers called the “1125 Riderz” for the deadly crash.
“Everybody knows it’s them,” said Pierre-Luc Tailleur, a 28-year-old father of two who runs a car enthusiasts’ group called “Authentic Society.”
Tailleur said when he drives fast or drifts his car, he does it on a closed race track. 1125 Riderz have posted multiple videos online of themselves engaging in dangerous behaviour in public spaces. The videos make sure to show when police intervene.
“They try to make it cool to be arrested by the police and after they blame the police officer for arresting them, but I think they deserve it,” said Tailleur. “After, we all pay for that.”
He said most car enthusiasts enjoy their hobby in a respectful way, but dangerous groups ruin the fun for everyone when they show up at car meets.
“I have two kids myself and I try to show them what motorsport is. When we see things like that, I’m afraid for the security of my child, too,” he added, explaining he will often leave car meets when the group shows up. “There’s a time and a place to do it, they’re out on the weekend, five o’clock in the afternoon. There’s people everywhere, there’s families, there’s kids.”
Another car gathering north of Montreal saw more than 100 people ticketed Sunday night. Last November, a pedestrian died in Ahuntsic-Cartierville during a high speed crash after an illegal car rally. According to Grimard, much of 1125 Riderz social media presence went private or changed names after that incident.
Police say they are keeping a close eye on the modified car community both online and in person.