SIU: Police watchdog clears Elgin County OPP officer in death of man who drove his car off cliff into Lake Erie

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Ontario’s police watchdog has cleared an officer of any wrongdoing in the death of a man who drove off a cliff into Lake Erie.

An Elgin County OPP officer began following a vehicle on Springfield Road near Nova Scotia Road, southeast of St. Thomas, on June 23.

The officer noticed the driver toss an item from the vehicle and stopped to retrieve it, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said.

The vehicle sped away south on Springfield Road, driving through a field and off a cliff into Lake Erie, the SIU said.

A witness told the officer the vehicle drove off the cliff on Springfield Road, just east of Port Bruce, and into the lake.

OPP divers retrieved the body of a 57-year-old man, whose name hasn’t been released, from the water the next day.

The SIU was called in to probe the case, but the agency announced Monday it’s terminating the investigation, citing a lack of evidence that the officer was involved in the man’s death.

“The man died as a result of injuries consistent with a collision and drowning. Based on the investigation, it is clear that the man drove his vehicle at a high rate of speed across a field and unhesitatingly drove it off the cliff into Lake Erie,” SIU director Tony Loparco said in a report published Monday.

“The police officer was nowhere near the vehicle when it plunged into the lake.”

Created in 1990, the SIU investigates civilian death or serious injury involving police and allegations of sexual assault against officers.

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