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'Searching for a ghost': Man wanted in fatal Highway 11 crash deceased, police say

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The search is over for a commercial truck driver wanted by northern Ontario police in a fatal crash on Highway 11 last year that killed one pregnant woman and two unborn babies, leaving one mother-to-be with critical injuries.

Brooke (left) and Christina (right) were both pregnant when they were hit by a commercial vehicle driven by 68-year-old Richard Ouellette of Dorval, Que. (Jessica Pare)

Richard Ouellette, 67, was charged with dangerous operation causing death and dangerous operation causing bodily harm in connection with the Temiskaming Shores crash on April 7, 2022.

A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to attend court in August 2022 and now we know why he was not there.

Ontario Provincial Police confirmed to CTV News in an email Tuesday that Ouellette was found deceased in another province.

"We literally have been searching for a ghost," Caroline Osmond told CTV News in an online interview.

Osmond's 21-year-old daughter, Christine, and unborn grandson, Colton, were killed in the crash. Colton was due May 13, 2022.

She said she feels both devastated and relieved at the news.

"We all have answers now, but why? Why did it take so long?" Osmond asked.

"How did not one but two police services not know this? I don't understand how it took 15 months to discover his death."

Jessica Pare is the mother of the pregnant woman, Brooke, who survived but also lost her unborn daughter Grace – who was due in June 2022.

Brooke visits the roadside memorial for her unborn baby, Grace, her friend Christina and her unborn baby Colton in Temiskaming Shores. (Jessica Pare)

"When I heard the news of his death, I was shocked angry and felt kind of let down," Pare said.

"I wanted to face him in court to explain how his actions have affected my whole family. We have never been the same, especially my daughter."

Pare told CTV News in an online interview the two families were told Ouellette died of natural causes in a Calgary hospital in July 2022.

OPP did not confirm those details when asked.

"First and foremost, our families would like to thank everyone who shared, posted and spoke about this man who we wanted to bring to justice. We truly believe because of the social media presence and the pressure from everyone online we finally have an answer," the families said in a joint statement on social media.

"We appreciate all the support and love we have received … Thank you again for sharing our story and helping locate the man who destroyed our lives."

Pare said Brooke is still dealing with serious health issues due to the crash and had to undergo emergency surgery a few weeks ago.

"I just wanted justice and to look him in the face. I don’t understand how someone dies with a warrant and doesn’t get flagged," Pare said.

"The chief of police contacted us with the info saying he did some digging. OK, so why didn’t you dig earlier?"

Osmond said the wait has added so much unnecessary stress to their lives.

Colton's ultrasound photo (Reynold's Funeral)

"Someone should have looked into his disappearance sooner, it's not like the charges were insignificant. He took three lives and seriously injured another."

Pare said they put a lot of time and energy into finding Ouellette.

"These women and babies deserved justice," she said.

"He was the missing piece to our grief process and to learn a year and half later he was dead this whole time was, to say the least, disturbing."

STILL IN COURT

Timmins lawyer André Bourdon is representing Pare and her daughter in a civil lawsuit about the crash.

Bourdon told CTV News in a phone interview, both the driver and transport company are named in the statement of claim and they are dealing with the insurance companies.

He said the case could take time to resolve as it is competing with criminal cases for court time and they take precedence.

In personal injury cases, Bourdon said you have to wait until injuries plateau to get a trial date or settlement because a doctor needs to be able to say with some degree of certainty, "Here's what you can expect for the rest of your life."

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