One year ago today, a father of two with a disability spoke to his family for the last time before he got on his bicycle and headed north in the city.
He owned a home on Spadina Avenue with his mother, Gail. Around 2:30 p.m. at Barton and Lottridge Streets, he had a brief exchange with some people on the street. Those people said something to the driver of a black pickup truck.
Whatever that exchange was, the driver chased Sullivan down city streets until they reached the rear lot of a restaurant supply store. The truck hit Sullivan so hard that he flew off the bicycle. He was found unconscious and died after three months on life support — the city's 10th murder that year.
'We can’t put it to rest until we find out why and who and who and why. There are people that know who the driver was.' - Teresa Mummery, sister
There have been leads since then. Police have the truck — a black Ford F150. Investigators have tried to follow a tangled trail that will lead them to the driver. But they still don't know who it is.
Sullivan's family and friends gathered at the 927 Barton St. E. on Tuesday, the site of the fatal attack, to put out another plea for the public to step forward. Someone out there knows something, said Sullivan's sister, Teresa Mummery. And with the case unsolved, the family can't move on.
"We can’t put it to rest until we find out why and who and who and why," she said.
"There are people that know who the driver was. We want them to have a heart and come forward and help us have some closure and to get some justice done."
Sullivan was 51 years old and the father of a son and daughter. He worked from home building or fixing things for other people. He rebuilt computers for underprivileged children. He fixed bicycles for people who didn’t have them.
Examined the pickup truck
The Port Dover native knew his share of struggles. An earlier fall had left him with a back and leg injury, and in 2010, he was hit by a car, which made movement harder, said his mother, Gail Sullivan.
Sometimes it impacted how quickly he could ride his bicycle. "He had good days and bad days," she said.
He rarely left the house without wearing his Narcotics Anonymous ring, which Gail now wears on a chain around her neck.
When Sullivan was hit, police didn’t release any information to the public for three months. Investigators made that decision in fear the truck would disappear, said Det. Peter Thom of Hamilton Police Service.
Sullivan was riding when he had a “brief interaction with some individuals and continued about his business,” police said in a statement last October. “This interaction led to some misinformation being passed to the driver of a black, Ford F150 pickup truck.”
Forensic investigators have examined the pickup truck, Thom said. But the truck wasn't registered to the person driving at the time, and the driver likely didn't even own it.
"From the information we've got, it was loaned out to a number of different people," he said.
'We're missing a piece of the puzzle'
Police have been conducting interviews, watching video surveillance and using other methods to try to answer key questions, such as whether the group of people on Lottridge knew the driver. Police have charged one person with mischief for willfully giving the wrong information, he said.
He hopes the one-year push will turn up some new information.
"We’re confident there’s someone out there who knows who the driver is," he said.
"We believe we know what happened and why it happened, but we’re missing a piece of the puzzle."
Anyone with information should call Thom as 905-546-3843 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.