Articles on "Need for Speed" street racing death in Toronto, Ontario


Street-racing video game found at fatal crash seized as possible evidence

January 26, 2006
Macleans
By Greg Bonnell

TORONTO (CP) - Two teens facing criminal charges after a taxi driver died in an alleged street race between luxury cars could see a video game seized at the crash become evidence in the case, police said Thursday.

If the popular street-racing game Need for Speed does become evidence, the entertainment software industry says that would, to their knowledge, be a first in Canada.

The game, which allows players to race high-octane luxury cars through busy urban areas at high speeds, was found on the front seat of a Mercedes Benz that crashed into the taxi on Tuesday night, killing 46-year-old Tahir Khan.

The video game has been seized by police, along with the car, as possible evidence, said Toronto police Det. Paul Lobsinger.

"If the Crown wanted to introduce it toward state of mind," that's a possibility, said Lobsinger.

"It's sadly ironic in that what (allegedly) took place is what takes place in the game."

It's alleged schoolmates Alexander Ryazanov and Wang-Piao Ross, both 18, were racing Mercedes Benzes through one of the city's wealthiest neighbourhoods when one of the luxury cars struck Khan's taxi.

The impact of the crash folded the cab around a utility pole. Steam was still pouring off the wreckage as police sifted through the twisted metal.

Ryazanov and Ross face charges of criminal negligence causing death; neither has entered a plea in the case. Ross, scheduled to appear in bail court Friday, faces an additional charge of failing to stop after an accident causing death.

A memorial service for Khan was to be held Saturday afternoon at a Toronto mosque.

Investigators continue to analyze the two vehicles to determine how fast they were going, said Lobsinger, who added witnesses have estimated the speed at 140 kilometres an hour.

Despite the headline-grabbing nature of tragedy, the discovery of the video game in the car shouldn't be taken as an explanation for the crash, said Danielle LaBossiere, executive director of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada.

"It's obviously a very tragic situation, but the reaction to blame the video game... There's no conclusive evidence that shows a causal link between virtual violence in a video game and real-life violence," said LaBossiere.

"I think the same logic would apply in this situation."

While LaBossiere can recall a murder trial in Alabama at which the video game Grand Theft Auto was blamed - unsuccessfully - for the defendant's actions, she can think of no such parallels in Canada.

"It's certainly the first case I've heard of, in my experience, in Canada."

For friends and colleagues of Khan, a Pakistani immigrant working to bring his wife to Canada, the presence of the video game in the Mercedes only compounds the tragedy.

"The circumstances of the accident were tragic enough," said Jim Bell, general manager of Diamond Taxicab Association. "All this does is just rub salt into these wounds."

Munir Ahmed, a friend who broke the news to Khan's brother in Pakistan, says the wife's dream of emigrating to Canada died along with her husband.

"It's changed everything now," said Ahmed.

The men, along with other friends of Khan, have established a memorial fund through the CIBC.

Donations can be made at any branch by citing transit number 00402 and account number 2168332.


Fatal accident due to video games?

January 26, 2006
By 24 Hours News Service

Scene of fatal accident Tuesday evening in Scarborough, Ont. Tahir Khan, 46, a driver with Diamond Taxi who would have become a full Canadian citizen tomorrow, is the 30th person to die in the Greater Toronto Area since 1999 as a result of street racing. (24 hours news services) Tomorrow was supposed to be the day Tahir Khan stood up at a Scarborough Town Centre ceremony to swear his oath of citizenship for the adopted country he loved so much.

But the taxi driver's dream for a life as a new Canadian died with him Tuesday night in what police claim was a violent street racing crash - allegedly caused by two speeding teens with a taste for luxury vehicles and car racing video games.

Khan, 46, a driver with Diamond Taxi who would have become a full Canadian citizen tomorrow, is the 30th person to die in the Greater Toronto Area since 1999 as a result of street racing.

The Scarborough man was making a left turn at about 10:20 p.m. when one of two Mercedes Benzes, racing at speeds as high as 140 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, according to witnesses struck his cab, driving it into a telephone pole, police said.

The crash killed Khan instantly, making a widow of his wife in Pakistan, where she has lived since he immigrated to Canada in 2000.

The suspects were driving a silver 1999 Mercedes C23 and a black 2006 Mercedes. The video game Need for Speed was found on the front seat of the car that hit the cab, said Toronto Police Det. Paul Lobsinger. It's believed the suspects had played the game before they hit the streets, added Det. Nick Sklar.

"Ninety-nine percent of the gamers understand it is just a game and not real life where you can press a button and hit re-set if you crash," said Lobsinger. "Here we have, in real life, two guys driving high-end cars at a high rate of speed in an urban area" - similar to the way the game is played, he alleged.

Alexander Ryazanov and Wang-Piao Dumani Ross, both 18-year-old university students, were arrested soon after the collision and charged with criminal negligence causing death. Ross is also charged with failing to stop after an accident causing death.

The pair, friends and former schoolmates appeared yesterday for a bail hearing at College Park court.

As both sat in the prisoner's box, Ross whispered to Ryazanov, before looking at his visibly shaken mother in the body of the court. Outside the courtroom, Ross' mother called out to a close family friend and warned her not to speak to the media.

At the same time across town, several of Khan's cabbie friends were identifying his battered body at the coroner's office and steeling themselves for a dreaded phone call to Karachi to inform his immediate family.

Khan had visited Pakistan last year and planned to help move his wife here, said friend Munir Ahmad.