'I was sure she was dead': Husband of woman injured in Montreal police chase wants answers

Nancy Carrier, 42, has come through a 9.5-hour operation and faces more surgery after she was seriously injured Saturday when Montreal police tried to force the driver of a car to stop, leading to a crash right in front of Carrier's home on Place de Léry.

Nancy Carrier facing multiple surgeries for broken bones in both legs and her left arm

This collision following a police chase put Nancy Carrier, 42, into hospital with multiple fractures to her legs and one arm. She'd been outside her home shovelling snow. (Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada)

Simon Duclos was only a few minutes away from his home when he got the call from a police officer.

"She said, 'Your wife was in a serious accident,'" Duclos told Radio-Canada, standing outside the Montreal General Hospital where his wife is now recovering.

Nancy Carrier, 42, was clearing snow outside their home near the corner of Place de Léry, when Montreal police cruisers tried to force the driver of a black hatchback to stop, leading to a collision that left Carrier seriously injured.

Quebec's police watchdog, the Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI), is now investigating.

Duclos arrived home to a chilling scene: a small black electric car up on the sidewalk in front of his house, a smashed lamppost, a police car with a crushed front end, and blood on the ground.

"I was sure that she was dead. With the seriousness — the cars, the way they were damaged. It was atrocious," said Duclos.

Simon Duclos questions why Montreal police chose to pursue a car at a high speed in a heavily populated area, pointing out that there is a school and a grocery store nearby. (Isabelle Barzeele/Radio-Canada)

Long recovery ahead

Carrier was rushed to hospital with multiple fractures of both legs and her left arm.

She's since undergone a 9.5-hour operation to insert metal plates into her legs, and Duclos said she will have a second surgery next week to repair her arm, which was seriously damaged.

He said thankfully, at least, her head was not injured, and she's able to speak and move her feet.

"She's a fighter," he said. "She's upbeat and an optimist, and I'm sure she'll overcome this."

"But what kind of lasting effects will she be left with in the future? That, we'll have to wait and see."

He's also relieved the couple's sons, aged seven and nine, were safely inside the house and unhurt.

"Usually they clear the snow outside together. But that morning, for a little treat they were allowed to stay inside and play video games and eat croissants," he said.

Questions about speed of police chase

The BEI said Saturday that Montreal police had been pursuing a car that failed to stop for Quebec provincial police on the Jacques-Cartier Bridge.

Several police cars gave chase to the hatchback, which hit several other vehicles during the chase.

The BEI said that a vehicle collided with a patrol car, which struck Carrier.

It's not yet clear how fast police were going when Carrier was hit, but Duclos believes the extent of the damage indicates that it was at a high speed.

"We lowered the speed limits everywhere in Montreal to 40 km/h. So why would it be justified to do a police chase at the speed that they did?" said Duclos.

"I don't want to throw stones, but we have questions," he said.

Police officers are trained to initiate a police chase as a last resort, according to Paul Chablo, the chair of the police technology department at John Abbott College.

While he would not comment on this specific case, Chablo said in general, officers must consider the time of day, the weather conditions and whether there are other vehicles on the road or bystanders in the area.

"You have to look at the gravity of the situation," said Chablo. "What are you chasing? Are you chasing a murder suspect, or somebody who doesn't have their licence paid? There's a big difference."

- With files from Radio-Canada