UberX car struck by SUV during downtown Toronto police chase
Eight people sent to hospital after allegedly stolen SUV collides with Uber vehicle carrying passengers.
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A high-speed police chase involving an SUV ended early Sunday morning in a collision with another vehicle — an UberX car carrying passengers — an arrest, and eight people sent to hospital.
Three of those were seriously injured, according to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which investigates whenever an interaction with police results in serious injury, death or sexual assault allegations.
SIU investigators say the black Acura SUV, which was the vehicle fleeing police, contained five occupants, two of which were 16-year-old males (one was the driver), two of which were 17-year-old females, and one of which was a 15-year-old male.
There were a total of four occupants in the Malibu Uber X vehicle. One of them was a 39-year-old male driver, one was a 38-year-old male, one was a 32-year-old female, and one a 27-year-old female.
The chase began shortly before 3 a.m. at York St. and Bremner Blvd., when police tried to pull a black Acura SUV over, but the driver didn’t comply.
Sterling Cloe, who was spending the night on Bay St. south of Front St. and unable to sleep because of the cold, estimated that the car, followed by four or five police cruisers and possibly more unmarked ones, whizzed by at about 100 kilometres per hour, heading north.
“They were flying,” said Cloe, who was still sitting on Bay St. opposite Union Station later Sunday morning. While he didn’t see the crash occur, “You could hear it; it was like a thunderbolt,” he said, later comparing the sound to “an oil tanker exploding.”
According to the SIU, only two vehicles were involved. The UberX car, a silver Chevrolet Malibu, was travelling west on Wellington St. when it was struck by the black SUV.
SIU stated that injuries among the various occupants include multiple fractured bones.
“There was one person who fled and was arrested a short while later . . . right after,” SIU spokesperson Jason Gennaro told the Star. It’s unclear whether the person arrested was one of the eight taken to hospital.
As of early Sunday evening, the SIU had not announced any charges.
Cloe said a man in plain clothes introduced himself as a police officer investigating the scene and told him the vehicle involved in the chase had been stolen. But neither Toronto police nor the SIU would confirm to the Star the reasons for the chase.
Late Sunday morning, the remains of the crash remained on the stretch of Bay between King and Wellington Sts. The nose of the black Acura was flattened and shattered glass covered the ground around it. A few yards behind it, the silver Malibu was leaning up against a pole, pointed in the opposite direction. One of its doors lay ripped off, next to it. Its bumper had apparently been hurled to the opposite side of the street.
UberX, an app-based service that uses private vehicles to carry paying passengers, is not currently regulated under city bylaws that govern the taxi industry, and how its insurance coverage works remains murky. In January, the insurance company Aviva announced a plan to provide coverage for UberX drivers, but the policy has not been formally filed with regulators.
Uber spokesperson Susie Heath said every ride on the UberX platform in Canada is insured. “We also have a well-established claims process — upon being notified, we work with our riders and partners on properly resolving any accident claim,” Heath said in an emailed statement.
“In the event of an accident during an uberX trip, ridesharing partners are covered by commercial auto insurance in addition to any insurance coverage maintained by the driver-partner,” the company’s website says.
Heath added that the ride-sharing company is gathering information that may help law enforcement in the investigation and that “our thoughts are with those injured in this morning’s accident.”
On March 11, the Toronto taxi industry filed for an injunction against all UberX drivers in attempt to have the ride-sharing service shut down.