Apparent murder, highway mayhem, 90 weekend callouts keep police occupied

by Alicia McCutcheon

MANITOULIN—With the increase in traffic during Manitoulin’s busy summer months comes an increase for the need of defensive driving skills and for motorists to lay off the gas. Impaired driving is also proving to be a constant problem.

The Ontario Provincial Police and Wikwemikong Tribal Police have both been dealing with serious highway traffic accidents over the course of a few days last week with one man killed and another fighting for his life at the Sudbury Regional Hospital.

On Friday morning at approximately 8:50 am, officers received a call of a collision on Kaboni Road in Wikwemikong. A tandem truck and a farm tractor collided, according to a release from the Wikwemikong Tribal Police. Paramedics tried to revive the driver of the tractor, performing CPR, but Joseph Daniel Lawrence Enosse, 70, was later pronounced dead at the scene.

A post mortem was to be conducted yesterday, Tuesday, July 19, in Sudbury.

The collision is still under investigation by the Wikwemikong Tribal Police with assistance from the OPP’s Technical Traffic Collision Investigation Unit.

Two days before, one of Manitoulin’s most scenic spots was turned to a scene of horror last Wednesday morning, July 13 when five motorcyclists, just off the Chi-Cheemaun and starting their Island vacation, encountered a grey Dodge Neon heading southbound on Highway 6. The driver of the Neon, turning into the first driveway of the 10 Mile Point lookout from Little Current, struck the first motorcycle, sending the driver over the handlebars, landing on the road badly injured and drifting in and out of consciousness.

After investigation by the OPP, 25-year-old Faith Wemigwans of Wikwemikong was charged with four counts of impaired operation causing bodily harm; four counts of exceeding 80 milligrams of alcohol causing bodily harm; four counts of dangerous operation causing bodily harm and one count of driving a motor vehicle with open liquor.

Three of the other drivers in the party were also injured while trying to avoid the accident.

Highway 6 was closed for close to eight hours last Wednesday with traffic being detoured to 10 Mile Point Roads North and South for the duration.

Jeannine Lewis, an employee at the 10 Mile Point Gallery, was on the scene and stayed with the motorcycle victim until ambulances arrived. She explained that the man’s injuries were severe with what appeared to be compound fractures to his legs.

“A passenger in the Neon just yelled, ‘What the f*#k! and I could see he was bleeding from the side of the face and there was also a woman in the back of the car who had lacerations to her arm. The driver seemed okay,” Ms. Lewis explained.

“You see accidents on TV, but never like this,” she said. “I’ll have that image with me for the rest of my life.”

She said she saw the paramedics giving the injured motorcyclist CPR before loading him onto the stretcher before taking him to the Manitoulin Health Centre in Little Current from where he was airlifted to Sudbury. Ms. Lewis also noted that a retired doctor was also on the scene and helped to stabilize the man.

Ms. Lewis guessed the driver thought she could make the turn before the motorcycles.

“It was just unbelievable—the worst accident I’ve ever seen,” she added, noting that the force of the crash caused the victim’s watch to come apart, tearing the band and face right off his wrist.

Constable Al Boyd, community services officer with the Manitoulin OPP, explained on Monday that the crash victim was still listed in critical condition and that he had gone through “a whole gamut of surgeries.”

“It’s still a touch and go situation,” he added.

The following day, on Thursday, July 14, the sirens sounded again when a Little Current woman had to be extricated from her mini van by members of the Northeast Town fire department on Highway 6 near Mountain Side Estates Road just south of Little Current. The police report states that the van lost control after hitting the shoulder and flipped. The driver was brought to the Manitoulin Health Centre in Little Current with non-life threatening injuries. Police noted that the driver was wearing her seatbelt and that alcohol was not a factor.

On Sunday, police also responded to an ATV rollover on Jerusalem Hill in Billings Township where they discovered a 42-year-old M’Chigeeng man in need of medical assistance. The man was also found to be intoxicated and was subsequently charged.

Constable Boyd noted that the OPP responded to 90 calls over the course of three days, noting that hot weather seems to bring out the worst in people.

Alarmingly, the officer also noted the rise in drinking and driving statistics. “They’re going through the roof,” he said. “Case-in-point, at 10:30 in the morning, a motorcyclist on vacation gets hit by an impaired driver. Drinking and driving is definitely on the rise.”

Constable Boyd also urged drivers to slow down. Summer means traffic on Manitoulin, he noted, and while that may mean slower speeds and more cars on the road, it also means that people are taking an interest in Manitoulin and its tourism industry.

Let’s not ruin their vacation, or our own, by running them off the road.