CAMBRIDGE—Police have been cleared of wrongdoing after a high-speed chase ended in the deaths of two teens one year ago.
Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit released its year-long investigation Friday, the anniversary of the chase and crash.
Nathan Wehrle, 15, fled police in a stolen car from Cambridge to Highway 6 in Hamilton, where the car collided head-on with a truck that hauls grain. Also killed was his passenger and new girlfriend, Taryn Hewitt, 16.
Families of the crash victims have said police should have stopped the chase.
Radio broadcasts reveal police knew only that they were chasing a male and a female, at speeds of up to 135 km/h along rural Gore Road to Highway 6.
Officers chased the car, not because it was stolen, but because they feared the female in the car might have been abducted, broadcasts revealed.
That’s based on a report from a civilian witness who saw an incident involving the young couple in Cambridge.
SIU director Tony Loparco concluded an officer was justified in launching the chase, fearing the woman in the car was in immediate danger, and that the need to catch the suspect outweighed the risk to public safety.
He also cleared two officers for the collision that killed the teens, blaming the crash on Wehrle for losing control of his car at a high speed.
Police were preparing to initiate a “rolling block” on Highway 6 to slow the car but “the evidence establishes that no (Waterloo Region police) vehicle was involved in this collision, either directly or indirectly.”
“I am unable to establish that there was a causal connection between the actions of both subject officers and the catastrophic collision,” Loparco concluded.
“Tragically, the collision occurred before any of their plans to safely stop the (car) could be successfully deployed.”
The civilian agency investigates incidents involving police where there has been death or serious injury.