A well-respected Mistissini man who worked for the James Bay Cree Communications Society was killed in a hit and run accident August 25. Willie Trapper, 39, died after he was last seen walking beside a foggy highway 113 from Waswanipi towards Chibougamau early that morning.
Police intercepted the suspects’ vehicle around 5 am, according to Surete de Quebec spokesperson Chantal Mackels.
“The person [driving the car] probably felt something, but didn’t know whether it was a person or an animal and they did not stay on the scene to make sure it wasn’t somebody,” she said, reading from the report. “There might be charges, but we still don’t know if there will be.”
The incident happened on route 113 at Kilometre 243.
A few days after the Nation spoke with Mackels, she confirmed that alcohol and “substances” were found in Trapper’s system. The SQ is investigating to determine if he was lying on the road when hit or standing on the side of it. These factors will determine if the police will lay charges.
The suspects were both sober at the time, according to the SQ, and were not given a breathalyzer test.
If it can be proven that the suspects knew they hit a person and not an animal, they could be on the hook for involuntary manslaughter. They are also performing an autopsy to determine what exactly caused his death.
Upon closer examination of the scene of the accident by the Nation, no brake marks or tire tracks of any sort were found.
Police would not release the identities of the driver or the passenger, except to say that they were male and female.
“He was seen at two o’clock that morning at the flashing orange light intersection near the community,” said Waswanipi Police Chief Tommy Grant. “He was right in the middle of the highway walking towards Chibougamau, past the garage. From where he was seen to where he was found was about two kilometres so he did walk quite far.”
Grant said Waswanipi police officers Donovan Saganash and Michael Blacksmith almost hit the body due to poor visibility while on patrol.
“Like a lot of people, I’m going to miss him and miss his voice on the radio,” said long time friend Bertie Wapachee, who met him when Trapper’s family used to visit Nemaska when he was young. “He loved his job and he was good at it. They won’t be able to replace him and the way he did his job. He was fun to listen to and he knew how to throw in some humour once in awhile.”
Jeff Spencer, Mistissini hockey coach, volunteer firefighter and business owner, said Trapper will not only be missed by those who knew him personally due to his regional radio work on JBCCS.
“I considered him a friend, he was a really likeable guy,” Spencer said. “He was always keen on what was going on with the different youth that were out playing. He was very up on our youth in hockey and sport. Whenever I called in from wherever I was across the country, I would give him an update and he would find the time and have the interest to do it.”
Wapachee said Trapper, who people knew better as Wallow, is going to be missed by all.
“I’m very sorry for his family and for the community of Mistissini and for the Cree Nation. We lost a great voice for the news and the fun stuff,” said Wapachee.