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Man charged in fatal hit-and-run pleads guilty

Jonathan Paypompee pleaded guilty to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death for a collision in July that claimed the life of 42-year-old Aaron Carson Johnson and severely injured his partner

THUNDER BAY — The driver who left the roadway and struck two pedestrians, killing one, before leaving the scene on foot, has pleaded guilty to one charge.

Jonathan Paypompee, 39, of Big Grassy First Nation, appeared in a Thunder Bay courtroom on Tuesday where he pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

The plea was entered for the purposes of ordering a pre-sentence report with a Gladue component. No facts were read into the record on Tuesday.

The charge relates to an incident that occurred in the Intercity area on the afternoon of July 3.

Emergency crews responded to reports of a collision involving a single vehicle and pedestrians on Simpson Street near Northern Avenue at approximately 3:30 p.m.

A man and a woman were found on the scene with serious injuries. The man, later identified as 42-year-old Aaron Carson Johnson, was transported to hospital but died of his injuries later that day.

The woman, Johnson’s partner, survived but sustained injuries that were described as life-altering.

Following the collision, Paypompee was observed sitting in the vehicle before exiting and leaving the scene on foot.

The Thunder Bay Police Service released video surveillance footage of Paypompee to the public in an effort to identify him. With numerous tips from the public, Paymompee was identified as the driver and urged to turn himself in to police.

Paypompee did not turn himself in but was arrested on July 4, and charged with one count of dangerous driving causing death, one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, one count of failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing death, one count of failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm, and one count of driving while prohibited.

Following the arrest, investigators with the Thunder Bay Police Service said it did not appear the collision was intentional, but drug paraphernalia was found inside the vehicle and may have played a role.

The matter will return to court in February when facts will be entered into the record and sentencing submissions heard.

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