When Parking Enforcement Officer (PEO) Frank Pongracic is on patrol for parking offences, he often turns on his car police radio to the Divisional band along with his portable radio on the Parking band so he’s aware of what’s happening in the area.
On the overnight shift of May 16, Pongracic had the radios on as he went about his job. As he drove west on Gerrard St. East looking for parking violations he heard that there had been a hit-and-run collision involving a pedestrian near Queen St. East and Broadview Ave. where the vehicle continued travelling east.
He keep the information in the back of his mind as he did with other calls that night.
“I wasn’t looking for it; I just saw a car go by with an odd-looking windshield,” says Pongracic. Nonetheless he turned his car around just to get a better look. Both cars turned north on Main Street and Pongracic moved into the right lane to take a turn, which was when he glanced at the car next to him.
“I turned and saw the windshield had major damage on it, it was all cracked and could see people inside the car, about three,” says the PEO.
So he radioed in and left a description of the car, the plate number and which direction it was travelling in.
Officers from 55 Division were able to then stop and arrest a driver, who was charged with impaired driving of a motor vehicle, over 80 mgs operation causing bodily harm and fail to remain at an accident causing bodily harm.
Parking Enforcement Officers are entrenched within our community and at many times the first to come across or be alerted to crime, tragedies and situations that require police response
The woman was struck as she was walking across Queen St. E., suffering serious injuries but surviving the collision.
Traffic Services Constable Clinton Stibbe says a simple tip like this can solve a case.
“Anytime there is a vehicle in a collision there is a requirement under the Highway Traffic Act for the drivers to remain on scene, unfortunately individuals in some cases choose to leave the scene. It’s only through the actions of individuals like PEO Pongracic or the public stepping up and doing what’s right that we can solve these cases," he said, of keeping an eye out for damage to vehicles.
Stibbe does caution people to use their own judgement when it comes to safety however.
“Everybody has their perception of what risk is, it differs, and we are not suggesting people should pursue vehicles or put themselves or others in jeopardy, but if they are able to identify even small things such as license plates or drivers, that in some cases, is sufficient enough for us to be able to solve these types of crimes.”
Stibbe adds that the best thing to do is call 9-1-1 and advise the operator of any information you may have witnessed.
Pongracic says he felt like he did what anyone do.
“You hear about fail to remain and it’s like somebody gets hurt and they are just left there,” says the Parking officer, who was glad he could help.
Parking Enforcement West Operations Supervisor Brian Moniz says Parking Enforcement Officers play an important role as extra sets of eyes and ears for the Service.
“Parking Enforcement Officers are entrenched within our community and at many times the first to come across or be alerted to crime, tragedies and situations that require police response,” Moniz said. “They are an essential stakeholders in public safety and emergency management within our city.”
The driver has been identified as Matthew Dalton, 23, of Toronto.