BRANTFORD, Ont. — Two Brantford teens died tragically ironic deaths after they were struck by a vehicle while walking to their designated driver’s car outside a frenzied alcohol fuelled party.
A 20-year-old police officer witnessed the shocking accident as she attended to an out-of-control house party in the rural community of Mount Pleasant outside Brantford early Saturday morning.
She was dealing with a group of partygoers down the road, when she saw what she thought was debris fly from a car that crashed several metres away on the dark road, said Ontario Provincial Police Const. Larry Plummer.
But she quickly knew it wasn’t debris she saw after she received a call about a car that was involved in an accident but did not stay at the scene.
“That’s when she realized it was people she saw fly through the air,” he said. “It’s disturbing this early in your career to have such a life-altering experience.”
“One minute you’re doing your job and the next you’re trying to save a 17-year-old’s life,” Plummer said.
The vehicle hit four pedestrians leaving the house party, killing two teen boys and leaving one teen girl in critical condition, and another with non-life-threatening injuries.
Carin Milmine,17, and Shawn McLaughlin, 18, both from Brantford, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Kelly Myers-Gordon,19, from Brantford remains in critical care at Hamilton Health Sciences and Kristynn Harrot ,17, is in stable condition.
The teens were getting into a car driven by a designated driver, who had already made one trip and was coming back to pick up others.
“I commend that driver 100 per cent because he was doing everything right,” Plummer said.
Everything that could have been done to avoid disaster was done, said Justin Spierenburg, the 19-year-old designated driver who was set to take the group of four home.
The teens were standing behind Spierenburg’s vehicle when they were hit by the SUV.
Spierenburg said he remembers seeing the vehicle out of the corner of his eye.
“I saw Shawn go over the hood of my car,” Spierenburg told the Brantford Expositor. “I can still hear the impact. It’s like a broken record in the back of my head that won’t go away.”
“We all knew that Shawn and (Carin) weren’t going to make it,” he said. “It was awful.”
Spierenburg said the two people in the SUV had been at the party but had been asked to leave.
Spierenburg was good friends of Shawn and Carin.
“Shawn was the life of the party. Everyone loved Shawn,” Spierenburg said. “He was funny, somebody who got along with everyone. ”Even if he did something you didn’t like, you could never stay made at him.“ ”
Carin, he said, was a laid-back, easy-going guy who liked to hang out with his friends.
Spierenburg attended a candlelight vigil on Saturday night at the scene of the tragedy.
“It was good to be there,” Spierenburg said. “But when everyone left, it was hard. No one was around and all the memories of what happened started going through my mind again. ”
“I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to drive that car again.”
Police chased the severely damaged car and stopped it about one kilometre away.
They arrested a 17-year-old Brantford-area youth at the scene.
The suspect faces numerous charges, but police were still working out the exact nature of the charges Sunday.
Police say that alcohol was a factor in the crash.
Plummer said Sunday that he is not entirely surprised by the tragedy, given the “pure chaos” officers encountered when they arrived at a house around 1:20 a.m. Saturday to respond to noise complaints.
The party involved students from two Brantford high schools, but the scene was too hectic for officers to estimate how many teens were there, Plummer said.
Officers at the scene expressed shock over how irrational the teen partygoers were behaving and at the “total disrespect” they showed toward the attending officers.
Police officers faced a number of incidents when they arrived at the party, including underage drinking.
“There was chaos going on all around,” Plummer said.