The death of a 44-year-old man by someone who left a gas station without paying is leading for calls for better employee safety laws.
The incident occurred shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday. According to the Toronto Police Service [PDF], officers responded to a Shell service station at the intersection of Marlee Avenue and Roselawn Avenue in the city's west end. It is alleged a man driving a four-door SUV pulled into the station and put $112.85 worth of fuel in his vehicle.
The customer then left the parking lot without paying and turned west on Roselawn. The attendant confronted the man and was struck and dragged by the SUV. The driver did not stop.
The attendant, whose name was not released, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. He later died.
Toronto police have named Max Edwin Tutiven, 39, of Toronto, as a person of interest.
The death follows that of Atifeh Rad, a 62-year-old attendant at a Mississauga gas station. On May 19, 2011, a man pulled into the station and put $75 of fuel in his vehicle. While leaving without paying, the driver came into contact with Rad who was struck by the car. He died the next day. CBC reports Abdullahi Mahamoud, 22, was arrested five months later. He was charged with criminal negligence causing death, fail to remain, theft under $5,000, and breach of recognizance.
Following the death on Saturday, Toronto Police Staff Sergeant Courtney Chambers is quoted by CBC as saying, "It's a frequent occurrence in and around the city where folks gas up and they drive off. Some blame it on the price of gas, but at the end of the day, it's still stealing."
The Toronto Star reports that Liberal Mike Colle, the MPP for the area, was returning home with his wife from the Toronto International Film Festival when he arrived at the scene shortly after the attendant was struck. Colle, who often filled up at the station, described the victim as well liked in the neighbourhood; someone who would lend people money if they were short of change.
Colle told the Star he intends to tell the premier he wants to investigate other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States to consider making pre-payment for gas compulsory.
The Globe and Mail reports that a few years ago, British Columbia enacted "Grant's Law," named after 25-year-old Grant DePatie who was killed in similar circumstances. Pre-payment of gasoline is now compulsory in the province and DePatie's death led to better employee training and more physical protective measures for gas station workers.
Shell issued a statement to employees reminding them never to put themselves in harm's way.
Police are urging Tutevin to get a lawyer and turn himself in.