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SIU finds no wrongdoing after OPP interaction with highway jumper

Kingstonist file photo.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has closed the case on an investigation into a woman who suffered serious injuries from an incident in Odessa on February 20, 2021.

Two Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers had interacted with the 18-year-old woman prior to her jumping from the 401 overpass on Wilton Road, resulting in serious injuries. Due to the presence and interactions of the OPP officers at the scene, the SIU mandate was invoked immediately.

The injured woman, also referred to as the Complainant, had placed a call to 911 informing the authorities of her intention to jump off the overpass, according to the report from the SIU. The two officers who responded were previously participating in a nearby RIDE program, and they arrived on scene while the 911 operator was still speaking with the woman. When the woman saw the officers approaching in their vehicles she ran, and then jumped over the overpass railing, onto the highway below. According to the SIU, the officers climbed down the embankment to attend to the injured woman. Paramedics arrived and transported the woman to hospital where she was diagnosed with multiple fractures and a brain injury.

The Director of the Special Investigations Unit, Joseph Martino, terminated the investigation, saying, “On my assessment of the evidence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that either subject official committed a criminal offence in connection with the Complainant’s injuries.”

“I am further satisfied that both officers approached the situation with due regard for the Complainant’s health and safety,” Martino continued. “The information the officers had been provided suggested that the Complainant was at or near the bridge, and that her act of self-harm was imminent. Time was clearly of the essence and I am unable to fault the officers for approaching the scene with haste, particularly once the Complainant was observed running from the officers. Though the officers were unable to prevent the Complainant from jumping, it was not from want of trying. They tried to catch her as she ran from them, but she was able to successfully elude both officers, reaching the western guardrail and jumping over without hesitation. In fact, at no point did either officer make physical contact with her. Following the jump, there is nothing to suggest that the officers acted without care or dispatch as they made arrangements to close the highway, comforted the Complainant, and summoned paramedics.”

The SIU is an independent government agency that investigated the conduct of police officers that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault, and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by SIU investigators who are civilians.

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