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Police do not believe fatal hit-and-run was intentional

Illegal drugs may have played a role in a fatal hit-and-run on Simpson Street that claimed the life of 42-year-old Aaron Carson Johnson and resulted in the arrest of Jonathan Paypompee on charges of dangerous driving causing death

THUNDER BAY — Investigators with the Thunder Bay Police Service do not believe a hit-and-run earlier in the week that claimed the life of a man and left a woman severely injured was intentional, but illegal drugs may have played a role.

“We did recover some drug paraphernalia in the vehicle consistent with crack cocaine,” said Insp. Ryan Gibson with the primary response branch of the Thunder Bay Police Service. “We are not laying any impaired charges at this time but our investigation is ongoing. We do have reason to believe illegal drug use played a role in what happened here.”

Police arrested and charged 39-year-old Jonathan Paypompee Tuesday evening relating to the collision Monday afternoon on Simpson Street near Northern Avenue.

Emergency crews were first dispatched to the area at approximately 3:30 p.m. for reports of a collision involving a single vehicle and two pedestrians.

The man, now identified as 42-year-old Aaron Carson Johnson, was transported to hospital and died of his injuries on Tuesday.

The woman, Johnson’s partner, sustained life-altering injuries and remains in critical condition.

Paypompee was observed sitting in the vehicle after the incident before exiting and walking toward the Intercity Shopping Centre.

The Thunder Bay Police Service released video surveillance footage of the suspected driver and held a media conference Tuesday afternoon urging the public to come forward with any information to help identify him.

“Basically immediately after that story got out and was shared by our partners in the media, we received quite a bit of information that was very helpful to our investigation,” Gibson said. “I can’t thank the public enough. Investigations are solved through information most of the time. We can’t do it without the public.”

Paypompee has been charged with dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, two counts of failing to remain at the scene of an accident, and driving while prohibited.

At the Tuesday media conference, police also urged Paypompee to turn himself in.

“We gave Mr. Paypompee ample opportunity to do the right thing,” Gibson said. “He had that time to think about what occurred and come in and he chose not to. He made a conscious decision not to come in and turn himself in.”

According to Gibson, there is nothing to suggest at this time that the collision was intentional.

“As investigators, you always keep an open mind, but with what we have gathered so far and it has been a very thorough investigation in a very short period of time, we are not seeing that at this point in time,” he said.

As for the vehicle, Gibson said there is no information to suggest that it was stolen, but investigators are still looking into it.

Gibson added that crimes like a hit-and-run can unsettle the community, as people see it as something that can happen to anyone, which is why he believes it galvanized the public to come forward with information that led to Paypompee’s arrest.

“We know this arrest can’t bring anyone back or make anyone better, but we hope it can bring some closure to her and the family of the deceased,” Gibson said. “And hopefully helps people in the community feel more comfortable.”

Paypompee appeared in court Wednesday morning. He has been remanded into custody and will appear again next week.

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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