Driver of speeding vehicle revealed

Kerri Breen
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OPP looking for clues into deadly car crash

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says the wreckage of the 2002 Chevrolet Malibu from Monday morning's horrific crash in St. John's will likely hold the clues as to how the accident happened.

"Horrendous" is the word Det. Insp. Scott Thomson used to describe the gnarled wreckage from the car crash on Freshwater Road that killed Rodney Joseph Kelly, 34, Leigh Harry Francis Richards, 18, and Megan Dianne Stoodley, 17, at 1:15 a.m early Monday.

The three victims from Monday's fatal crash on Kenmount Road were remembered by family and friends who left notes, flowers and trinkets at the stie of the accident this week. Photos by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) says the wreckage of the 2002 Chevrolet Malibu from Monday morning's horrific crash in St. John's will likely hold the clues as to how the accident happened.

"Horrendous" is the word Det. Insp. Scott Thomson used to describe the gnarled wreckage from the car crash on Freshwater Road that killed Rodney Joseph Kelly, 34, Leigh Harry Francis Richards, 18, and Megan Dianne Stoodley, 17, at 1:15 a.m early Monday.

"In my experience, (it's) one of the most substantially damaged cars I've seen in a motor vehicle accident," Thomson said.

At a media briefing at Royal Newfoundland Constabulary headquarters Wednesday, Thomson - the lead officer in the OPP's investigation of the accident - said an inspection of the wreckage was expected to be finished by the end of the day.

"The examination will hopefully determine impacts, and it may reveal information of what this vehicle was involved in and what transpired prior to the accident," he said.

So far, there's no mechanical explanation for why the car was speeding and why it crashed into a power pole.

Richards was driving the car and two of the three people aboard were wearing seatbelts, Thomson confirmed. He wasn't sure about the third.

Megan was in the front passenger seat, and Kelly was in the back, behind Richards.

Thomson said the families have requested privacy so he wouldn't comment on the nature of the relationship between the young couple and the older man.

He couldn't say if alcohol was involved, why the driver had sped away from police after an RNC officer had clocked him speeding or provide other details as to how and why the crash happened.

The RNC officer discontinued the chase in the interest of public safety, as the Malibu was travelling at about three times the speed limit when he spotted it on Kenmount Road.

The RNC patrol car was also subject to forensic testing to determine if it has been damaged, Thomson said.

The mandate of the five-person OPP team looking into the matter is to make recommendations to the provincial justice minister following a complete investigation of both the cause of the accident and the involvement of the RNC.

The RNC called in the OPP, as is its policy in these circumstances.

Thomson wouldn't comment on the importance of independent investigators in these situations, but he did say it's in the best interest of the RNC because an external investigation is fair.

"It doesn't leave the sense that it's a coverup," he said.

He expects the investigation to take months.

Thomson's team will use skid marks and the computerized components of the car to reconstruct the accident.

Police are canvassing the area of the crash for witnesses and are hoping to obtain security video from nearby businesses.

Father, two students

Kelly's death notice in Tuesday's Telegram reveals he was a father of three children.

He leaves behind a girlfriend, mother, stepfather, father, brother and friends.

Richards is survived by two brothers, his parents, many aunts and uncles, and a large circle of cousins, friends, staff and students at Prince of Wales Collegiate (PWC).

Megan had a sister, parents, a large extended family and two four-legged friends.

Both she and Richards would have graduated from PWC this month.

Members of the Facebook group in honour of the victims planned to meet at the crash site Wednesday evening. Funeral arrangements have been announced for two of the three victims.

Thomson said anyone with information can call the investigating team at 729-8600.

Organizations: Ontario Provincial Police, Prince of Wales Collegiate, Malibu

Geographic location: St. John's, Freshwater Road, Kenmount Road

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