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No evidence to suggest police struck woman on Highway 26, says SIU

The Special Investigations Unit has discontinued its investigation into the Highway 26 fatal hit-and-run
2020-09-16 SIU Bayfield RB
The Special Investigations Unit collects evidence at the scene of a fatality on Bayfield Street/Highway 26, Wednesday morning. Raymond Bowe/BarrieToday

The province’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has discontinued its investigation into the death of a Clearview woman found dead on Highway 26 in Springwater Township.

The SIU was called in because initial reports indicated an off-duty police officer was driving north on the highway when the officer came across a body on the roadway and attempted to swerve but made contact with the body.

According to SIU Director Joseph Martino, there is no evidence the officer did strike the woman.

Huronia West OPP have identified Vanessa Murphy as the victim discovered on the road, and have deemed it was a hit-and-run incident. The OPP has charged Kraig Robertson, 22, of Barrie for failure to stop after an accident resulting in death.

Murphy died on Sept. 15, and on Sept. 16 the OPP contacted the SIU to investigate.

A news release from the SIU states their investigation included examining Murphy’s autopsy report, 911 and police radio communications and video recordings from two restaurants that captured Murphy walking with her dog minutes before her death.

“While the initial information provided to the SIU suggested the officer had struck the body, and therefore conceivably contributed to the woman’s death, the SIU’s examination of the officer’s vehicle failed to turn up any indication of contact between the vehicle and the woman,” said Martino in the news release.

“As there is no evidence that the officer did, in fact, strike the woman, the investigation is hereby discontinued and the file is closed.”

The SIU is a civilian agency whose mandate is to investigate reports involving police where there has been a death, serious injury or an allegation of sexual assault.