Woman killed in hit-and-run with U-Haul truck in southeast Edmonton identified

Police say the U-Haul travelled north on 50th Street into Edmonton from Beaumont,  Alta., where it struck and killed a woman who was inspecting the exterior of her vehicle.  (Submitted by Ranjodh Johal - image credit)
Police say the U-Haul travelled north on 50th Street into Edmonton from Beaumont, Alta., where it struck and killed a woman who was inspecting the exterior of her vehicle. (Submitted by Ranjodh Johal - image credit)

The woman struck and killed by a U-Haul truck in a hit-and-run late Saturday in southeast Edmonton has been identified as the executive director of the Fort Saskatchewan Food Bank.

Kassandra Gartner made a profound impact on the issue of food insecurity in Alberta, the charity that operates the food bank said in a statement Monday.

"Kass's legacy is one of hope, compassion, and unwavering commitment to making a difference," said Amanda Bell, president of the Fort Saskatchewan Food Gatherers Society.

"As she would expect, our doors will remain open, and our services will continue, as a tribute to Kass's extraordinary life and the lasting impact she has made on our community."

At a news conference Sunday night, RCMP Supt. Leanne MacMillan said a 45-year-old Fort Saskatchewan woman was inspecting the outside of her vehicle after driving over a police spike belt on 50th Street and 22nd Avenue S.W. when a male suspect in a U-Haul truck hit her around 9:40 p.m.

RCMP say she was one of three civilian vehicles to hit the spike belt, which deflates a vehicle's tires. Another person is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The incident started after Beaumont RCMP attempted to arrest a person suspected of theft around 9 p.m. Saturday but the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed, MacMillan said.

The spike belt was laid on the road after the U-Haul truck rammed into an RCMP cruiser, RCMP said.

"This is an active homicide investigation by the Alberta RCMP," MacMillan told reporters, adding RCMP are working with the Edmonton Police Service.

Edmonton police responded to the request from RCMP by deploying a helicopter. Police said the truck travelled north on 50th Street into Edmonton from Beaumont before striking and killing the woman.

"We are incredibly saddened to hear about the tragic death of the innocent woman who was killed last night on 50th Street," EPS Det. Nigel Phillips said in a news release Sunday.

"Our hearts are with her family and friends who will now have to carry on with this unfathomable loss."

Police, RCMP still looking for suspect

Police say the U-Haul did not stop after striking the woman. It crashed shortly after just outside a convenience store near the same intersection at 50th Street and 22nd Avenue S.W.

The suspect then stole a dark grey Honda Civic that was parked outside the gas station with a child inside, EPS said.

Police said the child was located unharmed in the area of 66th Street and 25th Avenue minutes later, but the suspect had fled in the stolen Honda.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team has been notified by RCMP and will investigate the incident.

The agency investigates cases where people are killed or seriously injured during incidents with police, or when allegations of police misconduct are presented.

On Monday morning, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Troy Savinkoff said the Honda was found abandoned on Sunday evening in a rural area just outside Wainwright, Alta., 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton.

The suspect has not been arrested.

"There's no indication that this individual is armed and presents an emergent risk to the community itself," Savinkoff said.

"We of course would advise anybody, across Alberta, but specifically in that area, and potentially to Saskatchewan, to keep their eyes out for anything suspicious."

The suspect is believed to be about five feet 11 inches tall. He was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes.

Witness heard screaming

Ranjodh Johal lives near the gas station on 50th Street.

"I opened the [front] door and that's when I heard a lot of screaming, yelling, shouting, crying. So I couldn't figure out what's going on," Johal said in an interview.

"The police cars pulled up into the plaza, one after another [and] within five minutes there were a dozen police vehicles and ambulances," he said.

Robert Cross said his roommate was on his way to a nearby 7-Eleven when he saw police blocking the intersection.

"If you wrote this in a movie, people wouldn't believe just the connection of events happening all at once. But it happened last night," Cross said.