The first anniversary of the hit-and-run death of Lucas Shortreed on County Road 17 near here is on this Saturday.
Police are fully aware that the driver of that 1995 white Dodge Neon is fully aware of that anniversary. And they want that driver to know something else, too. They will never give up searching.
That was the message OPP Constable and lead investigator Pat Gonzalez brought to Centre Wellington District High School on Oct. 2. He also brought several smaller versions of the billboard posters that are now hanging all over the province seeking information about the person who struck and killed Shortreed as he walked down the road from a party that early morning.
Shortreed’s mom, Judie Gale, and his grandfather, Gerald Shortreed, were on hand to see the posters.
Gale said that she had heard from police that the release of the posters several months ago generated many tips from the public, and the police are following every one of them in search of the driver.
“We know the person out there knows we are looking for him,” Gonzalez said, adding that the search will continue. “We will not end this investigation after one year.
Gonzalez said to date police have gone house to house over a radius of 100 miles from Wellington County in their search for that white car, which they believe sustained damage to the windshield, and right side bumper and fender.
“We’re still following tips,” Gonzalez said.
He admitted the search is a mammoth task, but one the police are going to undertake until they are successful.
He said there are over 8,000 white Neons in Ontario, and to make things worse, Shortreed was struck and killed on Oct. 10. That was Thanksgiving weekend, and it was also at the height of Kitchener-Waterloo’s Oktoberfest, which attracts thousands of people from all over Canada and the United States to the area.
That, said Gonzalez, means there were a lot of travelers here at the time of Shortreed’s death.
Police are now into a three-phase investigation, which includes a $50,000 reward for information (phone the hot line 1-888-310-1122.
They are also spreading the smaller versions of the billboards around several counties and Gonzalez said it is heartening to see so many businesses seeking posters to hang.
There are ongoing efforts with major billboards as well as a tractor trailer with the poster on it. It shows Shortreed’s picture and gives the number to call to supply information.
“More tips are coming in,” said Gonzalez, who added, “We need them.”
Shortreed’s death not only had a profound affect on his family and friends, but also the high school he attended, and that is why the press conference was held at the school.
Co-Prime Minister of student council Sarah Hennikens said she was in class when the announcement of Shortreed’s death was made.
“It seemed as if the whole school fell silent,” she said.
She said her class spent the entire hour discussing Shortreed, and said his death “did affect the atmosphere of the whole student body and the staff. There was a deep reaction throughout the whole school.”
Gonzalez said police are grateful for the support and business sponsorships that are allowing them to post notices far and wide.