Toronto officer killed by rampaging stolen snowplow

Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:44pm EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - A Toronto police officer was struck and killed by a stolen snowplow after he tried to stop the driver rampaging through streets of Canada's largest city early on Wednesday.

Police said 35-year-old Sgt. Ryan Russell, an 11-year member of the force, succumbed to his injuries after being hit by the plow. According to media reports, the plow hit him when it smashed through a roadblock.

The driver of the plow was reportedly shot and injured after being stopped several kilometers from where the officer was struck.

Russell "was out doing his job in the early morning hours in the city in a very dangerous situation and put his life on the line and tragically has lost his life doing his job," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters.

Peter Tolias, president of the company that owns the plow, told the Toronto Star he used a GPS tracking system to track the vehicle as the suspect drove west, hitting more than a dozen parked cars along the way.

"He was on a two-hour rampage. Nobody could stop him," Tolias said of the driver, who was barefoot when he commandeered the plow, Tolias said.

Police eventually arrested the driver after reportedly opening fire on the plow at an intersection about 9 km (5.5 miles) from where the vehicle was taken.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said in a statement flags at City Hall and civic centers would be flown at half mast in honor of Russell.

Nearly 10 cm (4 inches) of snow fell overnight in Toronto.

(Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Frank McGurty)