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Former Brampton fire captain charged in death of wife in Blue Mountains

 James Schwalm, 38, of Collingwood, Ont., is pictured here after he was promoted to captain at Brampton Fire and Emergency Services. He has been charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a dead body in connection with the death of his wife. (Twitter/Brampton Fire and Emergency Services - image credit)
James Schwalm, 38, of Collingwood, Ont., is pictured here after he was promoted to captain at Brampton Fire and Emergency Services. He has been charged with second-degree murder and indignity to a dead body in connection with the death of his wife. (Twitter/Brampton Fire and Emergency Services - image credit)

A former Brampton fire captain has been charged with second degree murder in connection with the death of his wife in the Blue Mountains.

James Schwalm, 38, of Collingwood, was arrested on Thursday, according to the Ontario Provincial Police. The body of his wife, Ashley Schwalm, 40, also of Collingwood, was found inside an SUV after the vehicle crashed on Jan. 26.

Bill Dickson, manager of media relations for the OPP, confirmed on Friday that the two were married.

The OPP said in a news release on Friday that a grey-coloured Mitsubishi Outlander SUV was northbound on Arrowhead Road, just south of Highway 26, when it left the roadway before 5:55 a.m. on Jan. 26. Police said the SUV made its way down the embankment, came to a stop and caught fire.

"A deceased person was located inside the vehicle," the OPP said in the release.

Schwalm, who has also been charged with indignity to a dead body, had a bail hearing on Friday. Dickson said there is a publication ban in place on the evidence.

Twitter/James Schwalm
Twitter/James Schwalm

He could not confirm if Ashley Schwalm died as a result of the collision, or the fire, or before the vehicle left the roadway.

According to a tweet from Brampton Fire and Emergency Services, Schwalm was promoted to fire captain in February 2019.

City of Brampton extends condolences

In a statement on Friday, the City of Brampton confirmed that Schwalm was an employee of Brampton Fire and Emergency Services but said he has been notified of termination for cause in keeping with the collective agreement and the Fire Protection and Prevention Act.

"Our priority is the safety, health and well-being of employees and the community," the city said in the statement.

"The city is taking all steps to ensure members of the Brampton Fire and Emergency Services team, and employees across the organization have the necessary supports available to them," it added.

The city also extended its condolences to family and friends.

The Collingwood OPP crime unit, under the direction of the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch, is investigating with the help of Office of the Fire Marshal, Ontario Forensic Pathology Services, Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario, OPP Forensic Identification Services, OPP Regional Support Team, OPP Technical Collision Investigators and Reconstructionists, and the OPP Emergency Response Team.

The Collingwood OPP is asking anyone with information to contact them at 705-445-4321, or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).