Operation Red Nose volunteers, client struck by suspected drunk driver on New Year's Eve | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Operation Red Nose volunteers, client struck by suspected drunk driver on New Year's Eve

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It wasn’t the happiest of New Year’s celebrations for Operation Red Nose after volunteers and a customer were hit by a suspected drunk driver.

An Operation Red Nose escort vehicle was following a client’s vehicle, and both cars were hit on the East Trans-Canada Highway near Grand Boulevard in Valleyview three minutes before midnight on Dec. 31.

Katie Klassen has been a coordinator with Operation Red Nose for a decade and says this is the first time she’s seen an accident of this magnitude.

“We think that an impaired driver hit our escort driver from behind, continued on and hit our client’s car,” Klassen says. “We’ve had some minor incidents but I don’t think we’ve had anything like this since I’ve been coordinator.”

In a media release from the RCMP, the suspect was driving a black Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck, which struck a green Subaru Forester and a blue Ford Focus from behind then crossed into the oncoming traffic lanes before getting off of the highway.

The 24-year-old male driver of the pickup truck then crashed into an embankment, where emergency crews helped to extract him. An officer on the scene noticed signs of impairment and requested a breath sample. The man refused and was issued a 90-day immediate roadside prohibition and charged for driving without due care and attention.

Klassen says police and paramedics tended to the Operation Red Nose volunteers and clients. First responders checked out everyone involved, although there were no major injuries. She says the damage sustained to the vehicles will be covered under the organization’s insurance policy.

“We do have our own ICBC insurance policy so the client and the volunteer will be covered under our Operation Red Nose policy, so we’re just working with getting that dealt with and gathering more information,” Klassen says.

Although no one was seriously injured, Klassen and RCMP warn of the dangers of impaired driving.

“This incident serves as a sombre reminder to find a safe and sober ride home. Thankfully no one was seriously injured as a result of this entirely preventable collision, which could have had a deadly outcome,” says Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey, spokesman for the RCMP Southeast District in a media release.

— This story was updated at 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 2 to include information from the RCMP.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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