Thomas Joseph Smith,

Pub­lic played prom­i­nent role in hit and run death in­ves­ti­ga­tion

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY GREG MCNEIL gm­c­neil@cb­post.com

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.

CAPE BRE­TON POST PHOTO

FACE­BOOK/SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

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