October 08, 2015 - 8:00 PM
KELOWNA - Its a phone call no parent wants to get — a call from their son or daughter saying they’ve been in an accident, made twice as scary when the call supposedly comes from the RCMP detachment.
“My son called and said he wasn’t having a great day,” a local mom says, who asked that her family not be identified. “He said mom, I was in a car accident. Nobody was hurt but I was looking at my cell phone when it happened.”
Stunned by by what she was hearing, the mom asked her son if he was all right.
“I said are you okay, this doesn’t even soundl like you. That’s when he said 'there’s an RCMP officer who wants to talk to you.'”
The mother says a man came on the line and identified himself as a police officer and confirmed they were holding her 15-year-old son who was facing a possible charge of criminal negligence.
“They said he hit a foreigner near his high school. He told me he was handling this very maturely and showing remorse. I was like ‘of course he’s showing remorse’. He told me he thought things were going to work out well for him.”
When she asked if she could again speak to her son, the officer said he was talking to a legal aid lawyer who would explain the process to her son and would called her back.
“By now I’m tearing up and I’m really upset and all I can think about is I want to talk to my boy," she says. "I asked if I could come down and be with him. He said 'we don’t believe in scare tactics but we like the juveniles to spend a couple of hours reflecting on what’s happened.'”
The officer hung up leaving the mother reeling, not knowing what to do next. She called her husband at work and told him the story, asking if he could come home. He did just that, racing home in a panic, the mom says.
“I was staring out the window, all these thoughts running through my head, when a car pulled up and my son and his buddies all started climbing out," she says. "I raced out and yelled at him ‘we need to talk’ and ‘how did you get released so quickly’. By now his buddies are climbing back in the car hoping to get out of there because mom is mad. He looks at me and says released from what?"
When she explained to him what was going on, her son looked at her like she was nuts.
“I don’t even know how to drive. I’ve been in school all morning," he told her.
That’s when the phone rang again, this time with a man identifying himself as a legal aid lawyer representing her son.
“I said there has to have been some kind of mistake because he’s sitting right beside me. Without missing a beat, he said 'that’s why I’m calling you on behalf of the detachment to give our apologies, that there’s been a mistake.'”
By now her husband had arrived home in a panic, only to find out that it was ostensibly a mistake on the part of the RCMP.
“He was all pale and stressed out," she says. "Once we started talking about it, we both agreed their response wasn’t good enough.”
The mother called the Kelowna RCMP non-emegency number to complain and tried to explain to the desk clerk what had happened.
“She said ‘oh my, you’ve been pranked'.”
Hoax calls purporting to be from police are nothing new and a common scam is to target the grandparents of a teen, hoping to get bail money from the bewildered relatives.
“My son was upset too. He said ‘how did they know so much about me’."
Her son’s timely arrival may have interrupted what could have been a criminal scam or possibly an elaborate prank by kids from her son’s high school.
“Whatever it was, it was just cruel,” the mother says. She never pushed past the RCMP clerk to have it investigated further.
“Personally, I didn’t think they took it very seriously," she says.
But the mother says other parents should take her story seriously and perhaps consider a safe word or phrase just in case something like this happens.
“We were lucky in a way. It was only for half an hour, but it certainly wasn’t a nice thing to go through.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015