Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank executive director identified as victim in Edmonton hit-and-run involving U-Haul truck, spike belt

A beloved Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank executive director was identified Monday as the victim in Saturday’s hit-and-run on 50 Street

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Alberta’s police watchdog is investigating after an innocent passerby was killed in a hit-and-run by a suspect’s rented U-Haul truck Saturday night.

A 45-year-old Fort Saskatchewan woman got out of her car to investigate flattened tires punctured by an RCMP spike belt laid down within Edmonton city limits.

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A beloved Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank executive director was identified Monday as the victim of the hit-and-run on 50 Street.

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Kassandra Gartner will be greatly missed, said Amanda Bell, president of the Fort Saskatchewan Food Gatherers Society.

“She was the heart and soul of our mission and the driving force for service to our community. Her unwavering dedication and compassion have left a mark not only on our clients and volunteers but on the entire community. Kass’s spirit and commitment to service will continue to inspire us every day,” Bell said.

“As we face the days ahead without Kassandra, the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank is committed to continuing the vital work she so passionately led. As she would expect, our doors will remain open, and our services will continue, as a tribute to Kass’s extraordinary life and the lasting impact she has made on our community.”

Police are still searching for the male suspect who left a wake of theft, wreckage, injury and death behind in a crime spree between Beaumont and Edmonton Saturday night.

In a shocking chain of events, after striking and killing the 45-year-old woman, the suspect vehicle then collided with another civilian vehicle, leaving a man in serious but non-life-threatening condition.

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RCMP said the tire deflation device deployed at 9:35 p.m. was intended for the rented 15-foot cube truck which was on the run after ramming a Beaumont RCMP car that had stopped on 50 Street in Beaumont to investigate the driver, who was suspected in the theft of delivered packages.

“We believe the suspect was involved with stealing packages off doorsteps, so Amazon thefts, and that was the initial investigation that we were conducting that caused us to approach the vehicle and speak to the suspect,” said Cpl. Troy Savinkoff of the Alberta RCMP.

At the time of that stop, the vehicle had a female passenger.

The driver reportedly rammed the police vehicle and fled the scene.

The suspect’s rental vehicle had been observed at 50 Street and Highway 814 in Beaumont travelling at a high rate of speed. Officers stayed with the spike belt when it was deployed at 9:35 p.m. and Gartner’s vehicle hit it at 9:37 p.m., Savinkoff said.

“Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) Air 1 Helicopter was notified and provided its location to RCMP members. Multiple surrounding RCMP detachments, including Leduc and Strathcona, responded to assist,” said an RCMP release updated Monday.

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The badly damaged rental truck was abandoned shortly after slamming into the second civilian vehicle and seriously wounding its occupant.

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The Edmonton Police Service work at the scene of a crash along 50 Street near 22 Avenue SW, in Edmonton on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024 Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

A Honda Civic that was parked outside a convenience store at the corner of 50 Street and 22 Avenue SW was stolen at 9:41 p.m. Saturday, police said.

The vehicle had a child in the back seat when the car was stolen. The child was found unharmed 11 minutes later near 66 Street and 25 Avenue SW, and was safely reunited with his family a short time later.

The vehicle and its suspect driver were nowhere to be seen.

The stolen Honda Civic was found abandoned outside of Wainwright early Monday morning.

The adult male suspect is described as being approximately five-foot-11. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes.

Adverse weather wasn’t believed to be a factor in the chain of events, Savinkoff said.

Gartner was awarded the ‘Changing the Face of Hunger’ award from Food Banks Alberta in 2023, a testament to her profound impact on food insecurity within Alberta, and a legacy of hope, compassion, and unwavering commitment to making a difference, Bell said.

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“She was the first to share resources, knowledge, and surplus food with other organizations both within our community of Fort Saskatchewan and across Alberta,” Bell said, adding that hearts go out to her family.

“As we mourn her tragic passing, and honour her legacy, we also celebrate the remarkable life of a woman who dedicated herself to making the world a better place.”

The RCMP is taking the lead in the investigation and the Edmonton Police Service is assisting.

Asked if the EPS was aware of the spike belt’s deployment within city limits during a chase with a lot of moving parts, Savinkoff described the situation as “dynamic.”

“Certainly at the time that spike belt was deployed, Edmonton Police Service Air 1 was up in the air … it goes pretty much without saying that they were aware of what was going on,” he said.

“There is a long-standing history with EPS and RCMP working together to try to interdict the borders. And during these situations, there is often fairly close co-ordination between the two police forces,” Savinkoff said.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has launched an independent investigation and the RCMP is conducting an internal review of its actions.

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“Although this isn’t the typical (ASIRT investigation case) this is an incident that resulted in a death and there was police action involved in it. So it would be very much appropriate for them to be involved at this point,” Savinkoff said.

A news release issued Sunday by the RCMP said such events are difficult for the communities in which they occur, as well as for the general public and for the RCMP officers involved.

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The Edmonton Police Service released images of a suspect and a vehicle wanted in connection to an ordeal that ended near 50 Street and 22 Avenue SW around 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2024, which resulted in the death of a woman. edm

“RCMP officers recognize the trust placed in them to use force that is necessary, proportional and reasonable and in so doing remain fully accountable,” the release said.

“On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the family members of the victim,” said Supt. Leanne MacMillian, assistant central Alberta district officer.

“This is a devastating incident that will leave a mark on family and friends for years to come. Please understand that you will be in our thoughts as we progress through this investigation.”

The EPS responded to the horrific turn of events.

“We are incredibly saddened to hear about the tragic death of the innocent woman who was killed on 50 Street,” says Det. Nigel Phillips with the EPS investigative response team. “Our hearts are with her family and friends who will now have to carry on with this unfathomable loss.”

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“We are doing everything we can to track down the suspect and we trust the public will help us identify and locate him as soon as possible.”

Anyone with information about the suspect’s identity and/or their whereabouts can contact the EPS or the RCMP.

To report to the EPS, call 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com/250.

To report to the RCMP, contact Beaumont RCMP at 780-929-7400. If you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1‐800‐222‐8477 (TIPS), by Internet at www.tipsubmit.com or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers www.crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).

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