Three people are in hospital in critical condition after a two vehicle head-on crash just east of Ottawa's downtown core.

Ottawa Police were called to the collision on the Vanier Parkway at McArthur Avenue around 1:15 in the morning.

What began as a police pursuit in the ByWard Market was called off before the crash. Police were following a male driver in a Pontiac. Shortly afterward, the driver of the Pontiac collided with a Honda Accord.

Paramedics say a 37-year-old man driving the Pontiac needed to be extricated by the Ottawa Fire Service and was treated for head and leg injuries. 

A 24-year-old male driver of the Honda and 21-year-old female passenger were treated for head and neck injuries. Paramedics say they were ejected from their car at the time of the crash.

Vanier Parkway is closed between Montreal Road and Donald Street. McArthur is closed between North River Road and Olmstead Avenue as police continue to investigate the crash.

The Special Investigations Unit has taken over the case.