Deer collision kills Que. police officer, student

A Sûreté du Quebec officer and his police trainee died after their car struck a deer in Les Cèdres, southwest of Montreal.

Ride-alongs common for policing students at John Abbott College

Students and staff at John Abbott College in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Que., were receiving counselling Monday after a student in the school's policing program was killed during a ride-along.

A provincial police officer and a policing student were responding to an emergency call when a deer dashed across the highway, colliding with their cruiser, in Les Cèdres, Que., on Sunday evening. ((Melissa Kent/CBC))
Sébastien Coghlan-Goyette, a 25-year-old Sûreté du Québec officer, was driving with student Sophie Rigas, 22, when their cruiser struck a deer and lost control.

The accident happened around 6 p.m. Sunday on Highway 340 in Les Cèdres, a rural community east of Montreal.

The pair had been responding to an emergency call when a deer dashed across the highway, said Const. Yannick Paradis.

"They lost control of the police cruiser, and they ended up hitting a tree on the side of the road," said Paradis, a spokesperson for the Montreal Police Service, which has taken over the investigation.

They were taken to hospital in critical condition, but later died.

Student in fast-track policing class

The student, in her second and final year of police school, was riding with the officer as part of her studies at John Abbott.

Plastic from broken headlights is visible on the tree struck by the police cruiser. The officer and the student travelling in the car both died in the collision. ((Melissa Kent/CBC))
College spokesperson Debbie Cribb said the student had been part of the two-year intensive police technology program.

"There's about 95 students, so it is a small-knit group," Cribb said. "They all know each other, and they all work together. So it's definitely something that makes a big impact at John Abbott."

Grief counsellors are available "for any students, any staff who need to talk about it," Cribb said. "The staff, especially in this program, work with the students over a two- or three-year period, so they absolutely get to know them, they know every student individually. So it's hard for them."

Teachers are mostly "veterans of the force, so they know what can happen out there, and it affects them just as much as the students."

Cribb said the school places a high priority on in-the-field experience, which was why the student was out with the SQ officer on Sunday night.

The officer had been working with the provincial police force for 3½ years.

Montreal police are investigating the collision.