SUV stolen outside hospital with 88-year-old man in passenger seat

By | April 21, 2020

Ernie Haak watched his SUV get stolen with his 88-year-old father still in the passenger seat on Monday morning.

It was supposed to be a routine drop-off at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre, but instead it became one of the scariest moments of his life. 

Haak pulled up to the hospital to drop his father off for an appointment just before 9:30 a.m. Monday.

He left his SUV running as he went to ask hospital staff if they could bring out a wheelchair for his father. 

In the few seconds he was away from his SUV, a masked thief jumped in and took off — with his father still in the passenger seat. 

Ernie Haak says his SUV was stolen from Health Sciences Centre’s parking loop Monday morning with his father still inside. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

As the thief sped off, Haak reached to grab the door handle, but it was locked. 

“The first reaction, I have to say, is an urgency to do something, and you’ve got that adrenaline rush of anger,” he said.

“But once the car was gone, because I couldn’t do anything about it, nobody could do anything about it, including the guards … there was a great feeling of despair.”

Father pushed out

Security at HSC phoned 911. As Haak was calling family to tell them what happened, a security guard told him Winnipeg police had already found his father. 

He was found near Notre Dame Avenue and Maryland Street.

“They basically pushed him out of the car,” Haak said. 

The whole ordeal happened within about 20 minutes. 

Ernie Haak, right, had his SUV stolen from outside Health Sciences Centre, while his father Henrik, left, was still in the vehicle. (Submitted by Ernie Haak)

Haak’s father can’t walk without a walker, so he likely fell onto the pavement. He had scrapes on his head and knee. 

When Haak arrived at the intersection, his father was being attended to by paramedics. 

His father is okay, but because he has dementia, he likely would have been confused about what was happening, Haak said.

He knew something had happened, but because he has short-term memory loss, Haak said his father will likely forget about the terrifying event pretty quickly. 

“Which is, unfortunate to say, a blessing for him.” 

The stolen SUV rammed a police vehicle and fled at a high rate of speed when officers tried to stop it, police said. 

Haak’s vehicle was found in the Daniel McIntyre neighbourhood but no arrests were made. 

Anyone with information that could help investigators is asked to contact the major crimes unit at 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-8477. 

Carjacking seriously injures another man

Haak and his father were victims of the second carjacking in Winnipeg on Monday morning. 

A 68-year-old carjacking victim was run over by his own vehicle near Bannerman Avenue and Charles Street earlier the same morning, police said in a news release.

Police believe the man was getting into his vehicle when he was confronted by two people. One of them allegedly hit the man and pulled him out of his car, then ran over him and left him in his back lane, where police found him. 

He was taken to hospital in unstable condition.

Police later saw the man’s car in the area of McPhillips Street and Mapleglen Drive and gave chase, but the stolen vehicle was found abandoned in the Riverbend area.

The search for a suspect ended shortly after noon, when a woman reported hearing a female voice calling for help from a residential garbage bin.

Police believe the 16-year-old girl found in the bin had climbed inside to hide from police and got stuck. She has been arrested in connection with that incident. 

Haak said he wanted to share the story of the dramatic carjacking involving his dad to show people that they should never, ever leave the car running when they’re not in it. 

“This occurred when I was 20 feet away from my car, with someone else sitting in the car as well,” he said. 

“It wouldn’t have mattered if it was children, I don’t think, or another adult of any type. This was going to happen and I would like to warn people: under no circumstances do you leave the vehicle running if you are not in it.”

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