PENTICTON - The city is grieving today as an investigative team looks into the details of a traffic fatality yesterday.
The Internal Investigations Office of B.C. is saying little today, Sept. 16, after the tragic death of a five-year-old boy who was struck by an off-duty RCMP officer at the intersection of Fairview Road, Green Mountain Road and Highway 97 yesterday.
James Christian McIntosh was struck while crossing Highway 97 while biking with his father and older brother at approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday.
A memorial was building on one of the intersection’s traffic islands this morning as people left stuffed animals and flowers.
“Fly with angels now, Jamesy, you are loved,” one says, while another reads, “As a mother of three my heart breaks for your families’ loss - my thoughts are with you in this time of tragedy."
Students at Holy Cross School, where he attended Grade 1, were trying to come to terms with the loss of their friend this morning.
“James was a delightful little boy, so full of energy and really an innocent young kid who took part in class, he could be intense when necessary. Everybody loved him — it seems all too often it’s these types of people who are taken from us early,” school principal Shawn Campbell says.
Campbell says the school is receiving assistance from School District 67 and a crisis team was brought in to help staff and students this morning.
“The kids are dealing with it. At 11 (a.m.) we had a prayer service at the church with a couple of priests, a wonderful thing that helps kids internalize and understand this is part of life, but it’s still a tragic part of life."
Campbell believes the incident to be 'a complete and total accident.'
"I know the person driving the vehicle is profoundly affected by it, and there will be some healing necessary in that part, too,” he says.
Independent Investigations Office of B.C. media spokesperson Ralph Krenz said late this morning members of the office were notified of the incident last night and immediately responded to the scene from Surrey. Seven investigators are working the case today, including an expert in collision reconstruction and a counsellor to deal with the family involved.
Krenz said the vehicle was turning south onto Highway 97 off Green Mountain Road when it struck the youth. He could not say which direction the cyclists were going at the time, but believes they were in the crosswalk.
“Any and all factors in relation to the driver will be lines of inquiry for this investigation,” Krenz said when asked whether alcohol played a factor in the incident.
He could not provide any details about the officer involved in the collision, other than to say he was an RCMP officer with the Penticton detachment.
Krenz would not say whether or not the officer was cooperating with the investigation, other than to say in a general sense, because the officer potentially faced a liability, he had the right to remain silent based on legal advice.
Krenz said investigators are conducting standard investigative tasks, gathering eyewitness information and putting out a call to any and all witnesses who might have been in the area of Fairview Road and the Channel Parkway (Highway 97) at approximately 5 p.m. to contact the witness reporting line at 1-855- 466-8477.
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