With a 65-year-old London woman charged in the crash at Costco that killed a six-year-old girl and her infant sister, London police have answered only some of the questions left lingering.
Friday, two weeks after a red Monte Carlo plowed in reverse through the front entrance of the Wellington Rd. Costco and into a family inside, police have charged its driver, Ruth Burger, with criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
The charges relate to the death of Addison Hall, 6, and the critical injuries to Hall’s now-recovering sister, Miah Bozek, 3, and their mother, Danah McKinnon Bozek, 26, whose baby was delivered by an emergency caesarian-section.
Danah McKinnon Bozek, now out of hospital, was pregnant and walking into Costco with her girls when the car struck them from behind July 25.
Her baby, Rhiannon, was delivered in hospital but died seven days later. There is no charge related to baby Rhiannon’s death because she hadn’t yet been born, police said.
Police said the charges don’t necessarily indicate “intent,” but would not discuss the details that led to the crash, as they know them.
“As for the specifics to lay out evidence, that is before the courts at this time,” said Traffic Sgt. Amanda Pfeffer.
As to where the car was coming from, Pfeffer would only say it was “south of the store,” when it started reversing.
“Ms. Burger had been a customer at Costco and she was in the process of leaving the parking lot,” she said, declining to elaborate.
“I know many people have questions in relation to what transpired during the collision, but this is a case that is now before the courts.”
On those grounds, she would not comment on police findings.
Though police sound confident the woman did not intend to crash into Costco, charges of criminal negligence indicate police believe the driver was reckless, wilfully doing something she knew or ought to have known could cause injury or death.
At a news conference, reporters repeatedly asked Pfeffer about findings with regards to the driver’s medical condition or the mechanics of the vehicle.
“Mechanical failure has been examined but I can’t specify as to what’s been determined,” she said.
Police have also conducted many interviews with witnesses — there were hundreds of shoppers in the busy store at the time — but Pfeffer said they’re seeking more.
“We need help of witnesses that saw what transpired,” she said. “Also those who may have been in the parking lot prior to the collision.”
During the past two weeks, police have faced criticism from some who felt the investigation was dragging on a case that attracted an outpouring of public interest.
But Pfeffer made no apologies and repeated the charges are only a step in an ongoing investigation.
“These are major investigations. They take an extraordinary amount of time and our investigators must be meticulous. We have laid charges in this case, but that doesn’t mean the investigation is complete,” she said.
Burger, a just-retired Western University employee, is out of police custody, her only conditions being she can’t drive and she must report a change of address.
While police would say little about Burger, an online search lists her as recently being a first-aid representative for her department at Western and a member of a workplace safety award at work.
She didn’t return a message asking if she wanted to comment.
Burger is to appear in court Sept. 16.
Police say the car went between two post-like barriers, or bollards, in front of the store before smashing into the entrance and into shoppers.
Addison died after being kept on life support for two days, so her organs could be donated to four people. Her three-year-old sister remains in hospital, but listed in good condition this week.
The week after the crash, more than 2,000 Londoners gathered at a vigil for the family and an online trust fund has gathered more than $60,000 from the public. Costco has also promised to match any donations for the family dropped at its London stores up to $50,000, but won’t comment on the amount received so far.
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Many questions around the deadly Costco crash remain unanswered for the public. Among them:
- Did the driver now charged have a medical condition?
- Was there a mechanical problem with the car?
- Did she know something was wrong — with her health or with the car?
- Where exactly was the car when it started reversing?
- How far did it travel and at what speed?
- Why didn’t the driver stop?
POLICE WANT HELP
Police are asking anyone who saw the crash or may have more information to contact them at 519-661-5680.