Hamilton teen had been drinking before deadly collision, friends say

A 17-year-old from Hamilton had been drinking with friends before he got behind the wheel and ended up in car accident that killed him and a 42-year-old father of three, the teen's friends say.

Those friends say they tried to convince Shawn Bell not to drive home.

"We were the last people he talked to," Bell's friend Conner Lahie told CBC News. "He gave my friend a hug … and goes 'Nothing's going to happen, I promise'. And then he left."

Bell, 17, of the Stoney Creek area was driving a Mazda northbound on Highway 56, just after midnight ET Friday in rural Hamilton, when he collided head-on with a GMC Terrain SUV driven by Steve Last, 42, who was from the village of Binbrook, also part of Hamilton.

Last was bringing his two daughters and a friend home after a day at Canada's Wonderland.

Bell was pronounced dead at the scene, while Last was taken to hospital and died there of his injuries. His 10-year-old daughter and his 15-year-old daughter were in the SUV with a 15-year-old family friend. They are in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police have not confirmed the names, and have not confirmed that alcohol played a role in the accident. At the scene Friday morning, Hamilton Police Chief Glen DeCaire warned of the dangers of drinking and driving.

According to Last's employer, the carpenter had taken Thursday off work to spend time with his daughters.

“He took his girls to Canada's Wonderland,” said Rob DeVincentis, owner of Baycon Construction, where Last had worked for four years.

“He was scheduled back this morning. He was scheduled to go to job on his own. We figured he was on the job. And then we got the call.”

Last was divorced and had two daughters with his ex-wife, DeVicentis said. This year, his new partner gave birth to their first child together.

"He was planning to get remarried," DeVincentis said. "She's a super, super girl. I was with him when he met her."

DeVincentis described Last as a "very soft spoken," a "really down-to-earth guy" would "spend any minute he could take off" with his children.

"I know it's a cliché to say this when somebody's died, but he really was a gentleman."

Friends say Bell had been with a small group of friends just hanging out and had "quite a bit to drink."

"A couple hours just before that we seen him do it. Two hours later, he was going home," said Lahie.

“We told him it wasn't a good idea — said you're too intoxicated you should stay. He said 'No, I'm leaving.' "

Bell told his friends he had to leave because he had to work the next day.

About a dozen teens came to the crash site around 1 p.m., carrying a homemade cross. Some were crying as they nailed it into the ground at the spot where the cars had skidded off the road.

Bell recently graduated from Saltfleet High School, and many students there took to Twitter to express their grief. "It's so sad to hear that another Saltfleet student has been taken from us," wrote one.

The school has faced other tragedies in recent years. In June 2012, two Saltfleet students committed suicide when they jumped off the Jolley Cut. Another 16-year-old student committed suicide four months before that.

In April 2012, a 14-year-old Saltfleet student died from an infection after heart transplant surgery.

Highway 56 between Golf Club Road and Guyatt Road was closed as police conducted their investigation but it was re-opened to traffic shortly after 7 a.m.

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