PENTICTON - A police cruiser was damaged by an erratic driver while officers tried to pull over a cargo van Monday evening.
At approximately 4 p.m., May 25, police were alerted to a complaint of erratic and possibly impaired driving involving an older cargo van on the Channel Parkway, Penticton RCMP confirms.
Police located the van at the traffic lights at Skaha Lake Road and the Channel Parkway, pulled alongside the vehicle and indicated for the driver to pull over. The driver instead accelerated, sideswiping the police cruiser and dragging it a short distance before the vehicle dislodged from the truck. The driver continued to flee, and police opted against pursuing the truck for reasons of public safety.
Karen Walsh, a West Kelowna resident returning with her family from a trip to Salmo, was in a vehicle on the Channel Parkway when she noticed pandemonium on the highway in front of them.
“A big, white truck was driving down the highway, being chased by a police car, with another police cruiser driving down the wrong side of the road,” Walsh says. Their vehicle was at the intersection of Highway 97 and the south end of Channel Parkway.
The truck had made an abrupt turn and was fishtailing straight towards their vehicle.
“If Randy hadn’t swerved, the truck would have struck us. It all happened so quickly, I hollered to Randy to get over and the truck just went zooming by us. He was an absolute maniac on the road,” she says.
They pulled their vehicle over to the shoulder in front of another cruiser that had been extensively damaged. Parts of the vehicle littered the intersection, Walsh says.
Walsh says she didn’t see the truck strike the police cruiser, but figured that’s what happened based on the debris on the road and the damage to the vehicle. She says cars were pulled over on both sides of the road with police converging on the truck from all directions.
“The guy driving the truck must have known he did something, because of the number of police in pursuit. If we hadn’t gotten out of the way, he would have hit us. It all happened so fast,” Walsh says.
Police caught up with the suspect vehicle a few kilometres north of Kaleden. The driver continued through a locked gate before finally stopping, fleeing the vehicle on foot. He was apprehended a short time later without further incident.
A 40-year-old Keremeos man faces charges including dangerous driving, theft and impaired driving.
The driver has been released on a promise to appear later in June.
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— This story was updated at 11:01 a.m., May 26, with additional details.
— This story was updated at 3:15 p.m., May 26, with additional information from RCMP.