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Alberta man helped fugitive B.C. teens escape

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Two teen fugitives suspected in a killing spree in British Columbia looked like scared kids with “soft baby hands,” according to an Alberta man who helped free their SUV when it got stuck in the mud.

Tommy Ste-Croix, of Cold Lake in northeastern Alberta, said he realized only afterwards he had a potentially dangerous encounter when he unwittingly towed the SUV used by Kam McLeod , 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky , 18, out of the mud.

At the time, the pair was considered missing, not suspects or fugitives.

“Can’t see those kids killing anyone. Can’t even shake a hand properly, lol. Soft baby hands,” Ste-Croix said in Facebook posts to his friends about the incident, which was confirmed by the RCMP.

“My big heart could of (sic) got me killed,” he said.

A Toyota SUV was spotted stranded in mud behind Cold Lake hospital on Sunday, July 21. When told about it, he decided to head over to help the driver out.

He shook the two young men’s hands after pulling the Toyota RAV4 free and they even gave him their real names, he said. Only later were they identified publicly as murder suspects and he realized how differently the encounter could have ended.

“One shot to the back and that would of (sic) been it,” he said.

He drove right up to their SUV without speaking to them first, Ste-Croix said.

“I did a U-turn and backed up to their SUV before even making any kind of interaction. So they knew I was there to help and not hunt them,” he said, theorizing on why they didn’t turn on him.

He spent a good 20 minutes with them, talking, pulling out their SUV with his truck and then saying goodbye.

He said McLeod, with a “shaggy beard” was driving. Schmegelsky, a “tall skinny fella,” wore a white shirt and camouflage army pants. They looked the same as in photos and video he later saw, which were taken by a security camera in a store in Meadow Lake, Sask., about 150 kilometres away.

By then, RCMP had announced they were suspects in three murders and warned the public not to approach them but to call 911 or local police immediately.

“Wish I’d of known,” Ste-Croix said. “Something wasn’t right with these guys.” He described them as “kids” who looked “scared.”

Looking back, he said their status as fugitives explains something about the odd way they were acting.

“It all makes sense now on why they were eyeing me down so f—ing hard.” He said they could have shot him and taken his truck instead of shaking his hand.

“Their vehicle was down and out. I show up with a fairly new truck, wallet with all my credit cards,” he told his friends. “Someone was watching over me for sure.

“Blows my mind,” he said. “So surreal.”

At the urging of friends, he called police and gave the RCMP a video statement.

“It’s a wake up call. It is scary, hasn’t completely sunk in yet on how bad the situation could of (sic) gotten.”

McLeod and Schmegelsky continued their journey another 1,500 kilometres northeast. The SUV that Ste-Croix had pulled out of the mud was found the next day burning in a ditch between Gillam, Man. , and Fox Lake Cree Nation in northern Manitoba.

The pair apparently fled into the heavily forested, remote bush, likely on foot. A massive search has failed to find them.

Two men originally thought to be McLeod and Schmegelsky were seen Sunday near the dump outside York Landing , about 100 kilometres from the burning SUV. Despite a search, the RCMP have not had any confirmed sightings of them.

McLeod and Schmegelsky are from Port Alberni, B.C., and long-time friends.

Teen fugitives Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod in undated CCTV images taken in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan.

On July 15, Chynna Deese, 24, and Lucas Fowler, 23 , a couple on a road trip across Canada, were found dead near Liard Hot Springs in northern B.C. Deese was an American and Fowler an Australian, bringing international attention to the manhunt.

Four days later, the body of Leonard Dyck, 64, a lecturer at the University of British Columbia, was found 475 kilometres from the first crime scene.

McLeod and Schmegelsky face a second-degree murder charged in Dyck’s death and are named as suspects in the deaths of Deese and Fowler.

Messages left to speak directly with Ste-Croix have not been returned.

On Tuesday, the RCMP said despite more than 260 tips in the past seven days, there have been no confirmed information the suspects have left the Gillam area.

Officers completed their door-to-door canvasses in Fox Lake and Gillam, visiting more than 500 homes with no signs of them.

Police are continuing to search in the area but winding it down and asked the public everywhere to be alert.

“It is possible the suspects inadvertently received assistance and are no longer in the area,” the RCMP said in a written statement.

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Liberals block ethics commissioner from testifying about SNC-Lavalin report

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The Liberal majority on the House ethics committee voted down an opposition motion to have Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion testify about his report which found that Justin Trudeau violated the Conflict of Interest Act over the SNC-Lavalin affair. Vassy Kapelos gets reaction from MPs on the committee. Plus, the Power Panel breaks down the Ford government’s changes to Ontario’s sex-education curriculum.

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Joshua Boyle worried about what his wife might tell police

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Joshua Boyle

After calling 911 to report that his wife was missing and suicidal, Joshua Boyle told an Ottawa police sergeant that he was also worried what she might tell authorities when she was found.

“He told me he was concerned, as any husband would be, with what Caitlan (Coleman) would say to us when we found her,” Sgt. Shane Henderson told court Tuesday.

Henderson was one of the first officers to respond to Boyle’s 911 emergency call late on the night of Dec. 30, 2017. A recording of that call was played in court Tuesday.

The 911 call was made at 11:47 p.m. from a Centretown address.

Boyle told the dispatcher that his wife was threatening to kill herself. He said she was alone in her room then ran outside, and was “screaming at the top of her lungs that she was going to kill herself.”

He said she had borderline personality disorder, PTSD, “extreme mental instability” and other issues.

“I am very worried for her right now,” he said in the telephone recording, played in court.

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Boyle told police his wife was wearing a hijab scarf on her head, but did not have a coat and may not have shoes.

Before she left the apartment, Boyle said they had an argument that “turned into rabid self-loathing, a panic attack, something, I’m not sure.”

“I had asked her to stay in her room,” he said.

“It shouldn’t be long,” the dispatcher told Boyle. “We’ll get some officers to see you there, OK?”

“OK,” Boyle replied. “Just try to be gentle with her: She is really going through a rough time.”

Sgt. Henderson was the first officer on scene, and went to Boyle’s apartment at 12:05 a.m.

Boyle repeated what he had told the dispatcher, and said his wife had initially raced up the stairs towards another apartment in the three-storey apartment block. Henderson testified: “He told me that he did not want to drag Caitlan back into the apartment or did not want to hit her.”

Henderson and another officer went to the second apartment and interviewed the young man who lived there. The tenant said he had heard someone banging on his back door 20 minutes earlier, but did not answer it.

Court heard that the officers searched the back staircase and yard but could not locate Coleman so they returned to Boyle’s apartment for more information.

According to Henderson, Boyle said Coleman was particularly stressed because her mother was in town, and she was worried about the state of their apartment. They had also argued, Boyle told Henderson, about drawing on walls and “Caitlan, as a wife, not performing her roles and responsibilities as a mother.”

Boyle told Henderson that he wanted Coleman to stay in her room and calm down. “He told me he kept the door open and at no time prevented her from leaving,” Henderson testified.

“He said he offered to have sex with Caitlan if she wanted to.”

When Henderson asked if Coleman had a cellphone, Boyle reached on top of the fridge and retrieved a flip phone.

Henderson asked what it was doing there. “Boyle said he took the phone away to make sure she did not break the phone as she had broken phones in the past,” Henderson testified.

Boyle is on trial on 19 charges, including assault, sexual assault and forcible confinement.

His wife Caitlan Coleman, with whom he was held hostage in Afghanistan, is the principal complainant in the case. She’s expected to testify Wednesday.

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Tanker crash kills one, injures nine near Cereal Alberta

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Tanker crash

“One of the semi trucks was hauling fuel and that fuel ignited,” said RCMP Cpl. Laurel Scott. “So, that caused other vehicles in the collision to catch fire. A second semi was hauling butane and that’s caused a concern.”

A release from RCMP also confirmed the collision area is “consumed with flames.”

As a result of the second truck hauling butane, a preliminary evacuation order had been issued for the hamlet of Chinook.

By 9:00 pm, Alberta Emergency Alert officially rescinded the evacuation order for the community.

STARS Air Ambulance has flown one person to hospital in Calgary in serious, potentially life-threatening condition while HALO transported another individual in serious condition.

Brideaux also confirmed to Global News that six people have been treated at the scene and are likely to be released.

RCMP are also reaching out to anyone who was a part of or was witness to the domino crash, asking them to meet with officers in nearby Oyen.

“We’re asking those people to attend the Legion in Oyen,” said Scott. “Right now the Legion has been opened, food is available at the Legion, our Victims Services Unit members are at the Legion, and we have an RCMP member or members at the Legion. So, anybody who was a part of this collision, witness or needing some assistance in relation to the collision, is asked to go to the Legion.”

There is no word yet on the original cause of the fatal crash, as Scott added it will be several hours before a collision analyst is able to attend the scene.

“We will have a collision analyst attending,” she said. “But, I can tell you that collision analyst is not able and has not been able to look at the scene to do any examination or investigation.”

Traffic has since been rerouted from Highway 9 to Highway 884 eastbound and Highway 41 westbound.

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