Fatal crash stuns St. John's high school

A fatal high-speed car crash that involved two students sends shock waves through their St. John's high school, just as the victims were to have written their final exams.
Flowers and memorials have been left at the scene of the crash in St. John's that killed two high school students and a 35-year-old man. ((Cecil Haire/CBC))

The death of two students in a high-speed car crash has sent shock waves through their St. John's high school, just as students prepared to write their final exams.

Leigh Richards, 18, and Megan Stoodley, 17, seen in a photo posted to a Facebook tribute page, were among those killed early Monday morning in a crash in St. John's. ((Facebook))

Three people were killed early Monday when a car smashed through a utility pole on Freshwater Road, after a police cruiser had chased it part way down Kenmount Road.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said an officer, whose radar had clocked the car at 147 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, chased the vehicle but stopped when it ran a red light.

The crash happened seconds later, and the speeding car broke into two pieces.

The car's passengers included Leigh Richards, 18, and Megan Stoodley, 17. Rodney Kelly, 35, was also in the car, although police have not revealed what relationship he had to the others. Police have not indicated who was driving the car.

Richards and Stoodley were a couple, and were preparing to graduate from Prince of Wales Collegiate, where their friends gathered Tuesday to write some of their final exams.

Principal Lyn Moore said the decision to proceed with the exams was difficult.

"[There are] a lot of staff members who will be upset and it will hit at different times, and so you have to be very sensitive to all of that," she said.

"And no death is easy, especially a death of a student. I don't think you could ever reconcile that."

The students had recently attended the high school prom, and Moore said they had touched many lives at the school.

"Certainly one was a very accomplished student, an honours student. The other one had some issues but had really turned his life around and was making some great headway with his studies and with school in general," Moore told CBC News.

Ontario force to review events

"It's really unfortunate that this would be the way it would end, in Grade 12."

Grief counsellors are at Prince of Wales Collegiate, and the school said that students can defer their exams if they are too upset to proceed.

The Ontario Provincial Police has been called in to review how the RNC officer handled the chase that preceded the crash.

Const. Suzanne FitzGerald described the officer as a veteran and "exceptional member" of the force, and said that he halted the chase in the interest of safety.

"Once the officer observed the speeding vehicle run a red light and also based obviously on the speed and erratic driving, the officer decided in the interest of public safety to discontinue pursuing the speeding vehicle," she told reporters Monday.