'Impairment by cannabis' a factor in fatal Mill Woods crash, police say

A 45-year-old man has been charged with driving under the influence of cannabis following a fatal collision between an SUV and a scooter in southeast Edmonton last September.

Woman, 58, died at scene of September collision between SUV and scooter

A 58-year-old woman died at the scene after a Suzuki scooter travelling south on Millwoods Road was struck by a northbound GMC Terrain. (Min Dhariwal/ CBC)

A 45-year-old man has been charged with driving under the influence of cannabis following a fatal collision between an SUV and a scooter in southeast Edmonton last September.

"Following a thorough investigation, it was determined that impairment by cannabis was a contributing factor to this collision," Edmonton police said in a news release Friday.

Rakesh Sidhu was initially arrested at the scene and taken to Edmonton Police Service's Southeast Division. He was evaluated by a drug-recognition expert and required to provide a urine sample.

"The drug-recognition expert felt that the person was impaired and impaired by cannabis-related drugs and a toxicology sample and toxicology demand was read," said Const. Braydon Lawrence of the EPS impaired driving unit.

"A sample was given and analyzed by the RCMP lab and it confirmed the presence of cannabis in the accused's body. After that the accused was arrested for driving causing death as well as dangerous driving causing death."

Sidhu was arrested and charged on Wednesday. He was released pending a court appearance on April 10.

Obtaining toxicology results from the RCMP lab can take months, Lawrence said. 

He said he doesn't recall any previous case in Edmonton where cannabis impairment was related to a charge of impaired driving causing death.

Const. Braydon Lawrence answered questions related to recent charges laid in connection to a fatal collision that occurred in Mill Woods in September. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

A 58-year-old woman was killed in the crash, which happened around 10 a.m. on  Sept. 14.

The victim was riding a Suzuki scooter southbound on Mill Woods Road when it was struck by a northbound GMC Terrain that had reportedly crossed the centre line.

The collision caused the scooter to skid north in the southbound lanes, sliding into a Toyota RAV4 travelling behind it.

The Terrain continued to travel north in the southbound lanes, striking a traffic sign and a power box on the west side of the road before coming to stop.

The scooter rider died at the scene. Sidhu and the 50-year-old driver of the RAV4 were unharmed.

At the time of the crash, Edmonton police did not have roadside screening devices for cannabis. For the last month, officers have been using Dräger units, which test the amount of THC in saliva, as part of a pilot project that will continue until May.


Travis McEwan


Travis McEwan is an award-winning video journalist. Originally from Churchill, Man., he's spent the last decade working at CBC Edmonton. Email story ideas to travis.mcewan@cbc.ca