Corrections officer dead, 6 inmates injured after crash

A corrections officer is dead and six inmates were injured after a van crashed east of Highway 10, 40 kilometres south of The Pas, Man.
The corrections van that Rhonda Commodore was a passenger in before she was thrown from the vehicle and killed.

A corrections officer is dead and six inmates injured after a crash 45 kilometres south of The Pas, Man. on Highway 10, according to Manitoba RCMP.

The victim's family has identified the officer as 44-year-old Rhonda Commodore. CBC was told she was the single mother of a young son.

RCMP say Commodore died when she was thrown from a Manitoba Corrections van she was a passenger in at around 9:45 a.m. Thursday. The van crashed into a ditch and rolled before coming to a complete stop.

The driver, a 43-year-old male officer, is in stable condition and six inmates were sent to the hospital following the crash. The inmates sustained minor injuries, according to RCMP.

Rhonda Commodore died in a crash this morning on Highway 10, south of The Pas.

The van had been transporting the six inmates to Dauphin from The Pas and was travelling southbound when the driver lost control of the vehicle.

"This just goes to show that this is extremely dangerous work ... while they're out there ensuring the safety of Manitobans they're putting their own lives at risk," said Michelle Gawronsky, president of Manitoba Government Employees Union.

"The Pas is a small town and everybody knows each other, so this is a family member with corrections officers. They are a team, they`re a family together, so one fallen, they're all affected."

RCMP say winter road conditions were a factor in the crash. It is not yet known if Commodore was wearing a seatbelt.

"Seatbelts are installed in all vehicles for officers and there are no specific policies for their use beyond what's in place under Manitoba law," said a spokesperson for the provincial government. 

"[Vehicles used to transport inmates] are all retrofitted with security features and inmates are restrained during transport. Inmate areas do not have seatbelts for security reasons," the spokesperson said.

Justice Minister James Allum offered his condolences on behalf of the Manitoba government on Thursday.

"Our hearts and thoughts are with the family, friends and co-workers of the officer who died in the line of duty," Allum said. "Our thoughts are also with a second officer who was injured in the accident and is now in hospital."

An image CBC originally published with this story was in fact not associated with the fatal crash in question.