'This matter is being criminally investigated'
A tribute to a departed friend is now being treated as a possibly criminal stunt.
Last week a group of young adults, primarily men, revved their engines and spun their tires while leaving a memorial service in the Valley for a 21-year-old who died earlier this month in an ATV collision.
The so-called “burn-out” procession was meant to honour the crash victim, but it also elicited concerns about public safety, not to mention decorum, especially after a video of the unusual salute was posted online.
“We received multiple calls regarding a traffic complaint at the intersection of Municipal Road 80 and St. Joseph Street in Hanmer,” said Kaitlyn Dunn, spokesperson for Greater Sudbury Police, in a statement.
“Information provided was that numerous individuals were causing their vehicles to ‘burn out’ while exiting the parking lot of the funeral home located at that intersection.”
One of the participants, who posted the video on his Facebook page, maintained Emergency Medical Services and fire personnel were “on-site to supervise,” but Dunn said police certainly didn’t sanction the act.
“We can confirm that off-duty members of the Greater Sudbury Police Service were in attendance at the funeral, but no one was involved in, or made aware of, this incident prior to it occurring,” she stated.
“We take road safety and the safety of our community members very seriously.”
The individual who posted the video said the sendoff was not random and would have resonated with the young man that he and others were mourning.
“Man I hope you enjoyed the one hell of a show the boys put on in your honour,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Rest easy buddy, you’ll forever be in our hearts.”
Robert Kirwan, councillor for the Valley area, said the gesture may have been well-intended, but the timing and location were inappropriate.
“I think you can take it too far, and that was just the wrong place,” he said. “Nobody got hurt, but it wasn’t safe, and it put other people at risk.”
Kirwan said he wasn’t familiar with the victim or any of the participants in the motorized sendoff.
Nor was he aware of this being any kind of tradition in the community.
“I’ve never seen anything like that happen in the Valley,” he said. “A couple of people commented to me that it was unfortunate that people are going to think that’s what the Valley is like. It isn’t.”
The video was posted initially at the Valley East page on Facebook that Kirwan manages, but it was soon taken down, both for its content and the comments it was generating.
“My policy has always been you better make sure anything you say is something you could say in front of a classroom,” he said. “Anything that is mudslinging or inappropriate, we remove.”
Dunn said officers responded to the complaints about the burn-out but by the time they arrived on the scene “the majority of the parking lot was empty and the vehicles involved in the complaint were gone.”
Still, police are continuing to look into the incident.
“This matter is being criminally investigated,” Dunn said, adding, “anyone with information or video related to this incident is asked to contact us.”