KELOWNA - An investigation into a Kelowna police officer’s actions prior to a June car crash that sent four people to hospital, one of whom died, has determined the officer was acting according to the law.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. released its ruling today, Jan. 24. The crash happened on June 20, 2018 at about 3 a.m. on Highway 33 in Kelowna.
While not required to submit reports to the Investigations Office, two police officers, including the one involved in the chase, did submit written statements.
In the report, the unidentified officer said he was driving on Highway 33 when a car turned suddenly westbound, heading towards the officer. The car passed the police officer at more than 80 km per hour, he estimated.
The police officer put on his emergency lights, did a U-turn and pursued the car, which was about 300 metres ahead, in the middle of the road and veering into the oncoming lanes.
Seeing traffic approaching, the officer activated his lights again, along with his siren.
He estimated the car, by now, was speeding at more than 110 km/h and swerving back and forth before crossing a curb and hitting a concrete fence, causing the car to spin. He saw people and debris being thrown from the car, which came to a stop in the middle of the highway.
A witness testified that he was driving eastbound on Highway 33 and had to swerve to avoid the oncoming car just before it crashed, saying he “swerved just in time or else we would’ve probably (had a) head on collision.”
The owner of the car that crashed said she was asleep in the front seat and woke up when the driver said “…the cops are behind us.”
She didn’t know why that was a problem and could see the police car about 100 m behind with its lights flashing. She looked forward, saw approaching headlights, the driver of her car swerved and her next memory was waking up on the sidewalk in a lot of pain.
Another man in the car said he had no memory of what happened.
Data from the police car showed the entire incident lasted about 30 seconds. At one point, while trying to catch up to the car, the officer was going 146 km/h.
The investigator, Ronald J. MaDonald, ruled the police officer “acted as required by his duties and in accordance with the law.”
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