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'We were with you': Family of Sask. mass killer embraces officer who put an end to high-speed chase

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We’re learning more about the dramatic high-speed chase, arrest and sudden death of Saskatchewan’s worst mass killer, Myles Sanderson.

Following the revelation on Tuesday that Sanderson died of an acute cocaine overdose, the coroner’s inquest into his death heard testimony from the officers who pursued his stolen white Chevy Avalanche through oncoming traffic on Highway 11.

For RCMP Cst. Heidi Marshall, reviewing the dash cam footage of the chase and her deft takedown of Sanderson’s vehicle triggered emotions she had no time for on the afternoon of Sept. 7, 2022.

It was an incredibly dangerous situation — driving upwards of 160 kilometres an hour down the wrong lane on a busy highway.

Marshall told the inquest she was aware that any mistake could be fatal.

In the dash cam video of the chase and arrest, the inquest heard the RCMP commander instruct his constables to “take him out.”

Marshall responds — “take him out?”

“If we can, ram the vehicle with another [police cruiser] to get him out of play,” the commander says.

Marshall tells him they’re trying, but there’s too much oncoming traffic.

As soon as Sanderson crosses over to the southbound lane, she moves in and executes what’s called a “pit maneuver,” using her vehicle to nudge the back of the Chevy Avalanche, causing it to spin out and careen into the ditch.

At one point in her testimony, Marshall had to pause as her voice choked with emotion. Dabbing tears from her eyes, she told the inquest she always wanted to be a mother.

“I have two little kids at home,” she said.

When she rammed Sanderson’s vehicle, she said family and personal safety were the last thing on her mind — “tunnel vision” — she needed to get him off the road.

The inquest heard from multiple witnesses that RCMP officers are not trained to do pit maneuvers, especially not at high speeds, but Marshall said she still relied on the basic training she received at the RCMP’s training academy in Regina. It kept her calm and steady behind the wheel.

Sanderson’s uncle Eddie Head, who has standing in the inquest and is able to question witnesses, told Marshall he and his family were moved by her emotional testimony.

“When you were emotional there, we were with you,” he said. “In James Smith, we’re still going through that process as well.”

Head told Marshall Sanderson’s family supports her, and he invited her to visit the community of James Smith as they all work to find closure.

Outside the hearing room, Marshall embraced Head and other James Smith residents, as they met face-to-face for the first time.

On Wednesday the inquest also heard from the advanced care paramedic who was first on the scene to treat Sanderson, who lost consciousness and began having seizures minutes after his arrest, before dying in hospital of a reported cocaine overdose.

Other members of the medical team who treated Sanderson will testify tomorrow, followed by a behavioural analysis from a forensic psychologist.

The jury is expected to be charged late Thursday and could return with its recommendations by Friday. 

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