Thomas Joseph Smith,
Public played prominent role in hit and run death investigation
26, of Sydney, shields his face from reporters’ cameras Monday as he was taken from the Sydney Justice Centre to the Cape Breton Correctional Centre. He is facing four charges in connection with a fatal hit and run in March that claimed the life of a 54-year-old Cheticamp man.
Unprecedented public cooperation is being credited with helping RCMP in Cape Breton lay charges in a fatal hit and run that killed a military veteran suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Jackie Deveau died after he was struck by a vehicle while walking on Highway 126, near Exit 8 in Sydney on March 11.
On Monday, Thomas Joseph Smith, 26, of Sydney appeared in Sydney provincial court to face four charges related to that death.
“One of the things that we got from a lot of people was that they were really upset that this was a vet,” said Cpl. Glynis Thomas with RCMP traffic services.
“A lot of people were saying ‘he’s a vet, he has PTSD, he’s out there looking for help and this happened and this is wrong.’ That’s the biggest thing we heard from people that compelled them to be a little more involved in this.”
The early aspect of the investigation into the death of the 54-year-old from Cheticamp centred around the search for a grey Volkswagen, which was
believed to have struck Deveau on the highway that night.
Some of those who have assisted with the investigation to date are the same people who were trying to assist Deveau before and after he was struck by the car.
“This would make a movie. It would very easily make a movie. There were people roadside,
there were people that passed and had gone up the road and were calling 911. The response from people was just incredible.”
Many, she said, had literally just pulled over to try to get him off the road when they saw Deveau hit.
“That’s why I know it is agony for those families and people who had stopped by the side of the road because they were that close to getting him help,” she said.
“It’s not just Jackie and his family this impacted, it’s all these other people that stopped to help him and that moment of trying to help end up with a guy getting hit.”
Through the investigation, it has been determined that Deveau was not trying to harm himself while he was on the highway that night, Thomas noted.
“He probably got disoriented. We figure he had gone looking for a coffee and turned the wrong way and ended up on the highway. He wasn’t running away from the hospital or anything like that. He just got disoriented and ended up on the highway and was looking for help. That was it. There really wasn’t much beyond that.”
Besides public participation, Thomas said various departments of the RCMP devoted countless “hours and hours” away from their families during the investigation.
While a suspect was in court on Monday, she said the investigation is ongoing.
Jackie Deveau, right, is seen here with his wife Lorna. Deveau died on March 11 after a hit-and-run incident on Highway 125 near Exit 8 in Sydney.