Two men are dead after an SUV — whose driver earlier failed to pull over for a police officer — crashed into a Calgary home and burst into flames.
Vivian Forno, who lives next door to the bungalow in northeast Calgary, said she was on her way to bed at about 1:30 a.m. MT Wednesday when she heard the crash.
"I heard this huge bang. The house shook," she told CBC News. "The police officer was the first to the scene. It was within seconds of the crash, we had a police car already here."
Calgary police Const. Jens Lind noticed a suspicious vehicle at about 1:20 a.m. near Fifth Street and 14th Avenue N.E., said police. He followed the Jeep for several blocks before activating his marked cruiser's lights and siren to get the driver to pull over.
The driver ignored Lind, who is with the canine unit, and sped off.
The officer then turned off the cruiser's siren and lights and did not pursue the vehicle, said Roy Fitzpatrick, assistant director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), the unit that handles death or injury cases involving the actions of police officers.
"There's no indication from what we have that this was a pursuit, no, more a traffic stop and that would have been it," said Fitzpatrick.
The officer continued to search the area for the Jeep and found it three minutes later.
It appeared the SUV rolled several times before it slammed against the house in the 800 block of 10th Street N.E. and became engulfed in flames.
Passenger died later in hospital
Amateur video shot by a neighbour shows Lind arriving at the scene and retrieving a fire extinguisher from the trunk of his cruiser.
He makes his way to the Jeep, shines his flashlight into it and then sprays it a few times with the extinguisher. Four minutes later, Lind can be seen dragging a limp body from the vehicle as other officers arrive.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, while the passenger died later in the hospital.
John Dooks, head of the Calgary Police Association, said the officer followed proper protocol when faced with a personal risk as well as a hazardous vehicle fire that could release toxic gases or cause an explosion.
"A delayed response is not one that would concern me at this time," Dooks told CBC News.
"The officer's duties are first of all to check on people in the area, the residents of the building ... even determine if there's anybody in the vehicle because it's not uncommon for offenders in stolen vehicles — once they abandon them — to set them on fire."
A 52-year-old woman in the bungalow where the SUV crashed, as well as an officer, were treated for minor injuries.