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Remembering Colleen Lantz – A wife and mother’s final act likely saved her infant son

August 2023

Police officers frequently become desensitized to the tragedies that we see in the course of our duties. We can’t get too emotionally involved in the calls we attend, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs for long. We compartmentalize, develop dark senses of humour and sometimes crack jokes that could be deemed inappropriate outside policing circles. We see people behaving badly, and in the case of victims, having what may be the worst day of their life.

Some calls have a profound impact on us. Some calls stay with us. Some people we don’t forget. Colleen Lantz was one of them for me.

It was a warm summer day, mid-morning, on 11 August 2007, when I received a radio call for a two-car motor vehicle collision, one that proved to be a fatality. Killed in the collision was 33-year-old Colleen Lantz, who was riding in the back seat of a car, driven by her husband Bernie. Just before their car was struck by a second, out-of-control car, Colleen, who was sitting in the rear of the car with their infant son, threw her body over 6-week-old Tanner. Colleen was killed from blunt-force trauma to the head.

Eighteen-year-old Laura Steffler, who was driving the other car, was charged with one count of criminal negligence cause death and one count of criminal negligence cause bodily harm. In February 2009, Steffler pled guilty to Dangerous Driving Causing Death. She was sentenced to an 18-month conditional sentence and 2 years probation, in addition to 200 hours of community service and was a 5-year driving prohibition.

This wasn’t the first call involving a death I had attended, nor the first motor vehicle collision involving a death, but it was the first MVC involving a death where I was the lead investigator. I’d never met Colleen before this day and I hadn’t known her in life, so I didn’t really know her. What has stayed with me is the one thing that I do know about her: she was a very selfless person, like most parents are when it comes to their children.

I felt then, and I still fell today, that in the final act of her life, throwing herself over top of Tanner, saved his life. I have nothing to conclusively prove that, but no one will ever convince me that I’m wrong.

On 11 August 2023, I made a special trip to visit Colleen’s grave for the first time. I wish I had done it years ago.

Sources: HANOVER WOMEN SENTENCED TO PROBATION IN FATAL MOTOR VEHICLE COLLISION | West GreyPolice.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/colleen-lantz/

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