PENTICTON, B.C. — Students at a Penticton, B.C., school are mourning the death of a five-year-old classmate who was struck and killed by a pickup truck driven by an off-duty police officer.
Holy Cross School identified the victim as Grade 1 student James McIntosh.
“He was a fantastic kid,” principal Shawn Campbell said Wednesday. “He was a very lively kid, very intense kid at times, but boundless energy. One of these young people that everyone likes.”
McIntosh was struck around 5 p.m. on Tuesday as he crossed an intersection at Highway 97 while riding his bike with his father and older brother, Campbell said.
“As anybody would be, they’re just devastated by the loss,” he said after visiting with the family of the boy, who police initially said was four years old.
A teacher from Holy Cross was one of the first people on the scene, Campbell said.
The teacher comforted the older boy as the father, a paramedic, worked to save his youngest son, before the kids’ mother arrived. She is also a paramedic.
The officer involved in the collision is a member of the Penticton RCMP detachment, which has handed the investigation over to British Columbia’s police watchdog.
Ralph Krenz of the Independent Investigations Office said the officer was making a right-hand turn when he struck the boy, who apparently was using the crosswalk correctly.
Krenz couldn’t say what contributed to the collision.
“Any and all factors in relation to the driver will be lines of inquiry for this investigation,” he said.
The IIO investigates incidents of serious injury or death involving RCMP and municipal police forces in British Columbia.
The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Staff at Holy Cross, an independent Roman Catholic school for kids in kindergarten to Grade 8, are keeping a close eye on students as they grieve their classmate.
A small memorial of teddy bears and flowers marked the spot where the child died.
“It’s a really difficult thing, obviously, with small children,” Campbell. “Even with the explanations we can give them, sometimes it’s going to take a while for them to internalize exactly what happened.
“I know that they miss their friend and they may not understand why he’s not here.”
Joe Fries, Penticton Herald, The Canadian Press