Teen charged after hospitalizing student in ODSS parking lot collision

June 22, 2017   ·   0 Comments

On the right side of the photo, the white Ford Crown Victoria that struck four students at ODSS earlier this afternoon before colliding with a grey Jeep. In the background, police speak to the operator of the vehicle, a teenaged male who has been arrested for dangerous driving causing bodily harm. One of the students that was hit in the collision has been transported to Headwaters Health Care Centre with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.

By Mike Pickford

An Orangeville District Secondary School student is recovering from a broken leg and broken ribs after she was struck by a vehicle in the side parking lot of the school at about noon Tuesday (June 20).

Although not yet identified by police, 18-year-old Jen Coats is the unfortunate victim of the incident, the Citizen has learned. She was tended to at the scene by Dufferin County paramedics before being transported to Headwaters Health Care Centre with what were described as serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. Three other students were also injured, although they sustained only minor injuries that were treated by paramedics.

Cst. Scott Davis of the Orangeville Police Service confirmed to the Citizen yesterday that the 17-year-old male driver of the vehicle has been formally charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, criminal negligence causing bodily harm and mischief under $5,000. Due to his age, his identity is protected under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Police say the incident occurred shortly after noon. Early reports indicated the driver, behind the wheel of a white Ford Crown Victoria, was proceeding through the parking lot in an erratic fashion before striking Ms. Coats. The vehicle later collided with at least one other parked car in the lot, injuring three others.

Both the OPS and Orangeville Fire Department were on the scene for much of the day. The side parking lot was sealed off as police carried out their investigation. The Ontario Provincial Police collision reconstruction team was on site for much of the afternoon as they tried to understand what led to the incident.

On what was the last day of classes before final exams, several students were engaged in an outdoor water fight in the parking lot at the time of the incident. There were several witnesses, with one sharing what he saw with the Citizen.

“A friend and I were starting to walk towards the path that goes down to a subdivision away from the school and we noticed a white car doing donuts on the school field. As we watched, we saw the driver turn into the lot, narrowly avoiding a couple of vehicles before smashing into one… That’s when we saw someone go flying,” said ODSS student Jacob Claridge.

“My friend and I immediately ran over to help. We saw the vehicle mangled, the driver had exited and was in a state of shock. I called the Emergency Services, but someone else had already called it in,” he added.

He described the aftermath simply as “chaotic”, noting that the incident appeared to take a significant toll on fellow students.

“It was certainly a shock to witness something like that. Going inside the school, there was lots of screaming from people who knew her. It was very chaotic,” he added.

Several members of Upper Grand District School Board’s (UGDSB) Crisis Response Team were on site offering support and assistance to both students and staff throughout the remainder of the day. Heather Loney, the board’s Communications and Community Engagement Officer, said that final exams would continue as schedule, but stressed that extra support was available for students who needed it.

“There are additional staff from both the board and school available… They are there to help any students and any staff that require assistance, if upset or shaken up,” Ms. Loney said. “This was an upsetting day. Lots of people saw this happen.”

In a post to social media at around midnight Tuesday, Ms. Coats reassured her worried friends and family members that she was “alive” before thanking the public for keeping her in their thoughts. “Forever grateful for my family, my friends and the support from everyone else! Thank you.”

Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams, whose children are students at ODSS, was on the scene shortly after police arrived. He thanked all emergency service personnel for their fast and professional response to the incident.

“This incident highlights how fragile we all are,” Mayor Williams said. “My heart goes out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy. I’m thankful for the fast and professional response by our emergency services. I’m thankful that UGDSB and ODSS staff, under the direction of principal Bill Lenny have been providing emotional support and assistance to students and parents.”

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