|Farham Bajelan signs a public book of condolences in memory of York Regional Police Const. Garrett Styles in the Toronto Police headquarters lobby Thursday. (Alex Urosevic photo)
NEWMARKET, Ont. - It's not her fault.
Or so insists one of the teenage joyriders in the minivan that rolled and crushed Const. Garrett Styles this week. In the face of a tumult of criticism that's being unleashed upon her on social network sites, she's reportedly trying to defend herself, telling everyone that she was sitting in the back seat and unaware the driver was underage and unlicensed.
And she maintains there was nothing she could have done to stop the 15-year-old's foolhardy bid to escape but is sorry the York Regional Police officer was killed as a result.
Her former schoolmates are not impressed by her less-than-fulsome expression of remorse.
School is over but on this lazy summer afternoon, the infamous teen is the talk of the neighbourhood around her former high school. There may be a ban on publication on the names of the teens in the minivan Tuesday morning, but every young person asked knows exactly who was in the back seat.
They say she's been openly posting about it to her friends.
"It's all over her Facebook page that it's not her fault, 'What was I supposed to do?'" recounts a Grade 11 student at the teen's former high school. "But she's basically trouble. Wherever she is, trouble follows."
The girl now trying to distance herself from the tragedy was one of four teens out for a joyride along Hwy. 48 in a parent's car taken without permission in the early morning darkness of June 28. "The general consensus is that they were pretty high at the time," says one mother familiar with the teens.
Working patrol alone, Styles spotted their speeding minivan travelling at more than 145 km/h in an 80 km/h zone and pulled them over on the country road.
The routine traffic stop would turn deadly. With Styles standing by the Dodge Caravan, the driver suddenly accelerated, dragging the married father of two young children about 300 metres before it went out of control and rolled in a field, pinning the officer.
And now a 32-year-old officer is dead, the driver is in hospital, paralyzed and charged with first-degree murder, and the female passenger has a broken arm.
Those who know her aren't surprised that she got mixed up in this senseless death or that she refuses to take any responsibility for what happened.
"She's pretty troubled," the former schoolmate says. "She's really into drugs and into partying. We just saw her at a fair a few weeks ago and she was completely wasted. All she could talk about was how she got kicked out of school and that it sucks."
The teen is widely known because she was expelled from her high school and according to the students who know her, notorious for drug use and promiscuity.
"She's just a bad person," says another former classmate. "She's pretty much drunk most of the time and does a lot of weird things."
"She would come to school dressed really inappropriately," adds her boyfriend.
The warning signs, it seems, were everywhere: a wild child who was out of control.
And so where were her parents?
Her mom was actually defending her on Facebook, it seems, telling those giving her daughter a hard time that she already feels terribly and there's nothing they can say that will make her feel any worse than she already does.
As if she were the victim here.
Her protests haven't stopped the venom towards her daughter. "I actually hate her," one girl posted on Twitter. "She deserves to rot in hell."
"I frickiní hate her. She is such a messed up person," replied another.
So while the teenaged passenger faces no criminal charges at the moment, many in both her real and online community have already rendered their verdict - she can post all the excuses she wants, but she is guilty just the same.