Watchdog clears RCMP of wrongdoing in Shuswap crash that killed mom of four | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Watchdog clears RCMP of wrongdoing in Shuswap crash that killed mom of four

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. released a photo of the incident taking place.
Image Credit: Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

B.C.'s police watchdog has cleared the Sicamous RCMP of any wrongdoing after a mother of four was killed when the speeding vehicle she was a passenger in was stopped using a spike belt.

A Nov. 7 Independent Investigations Office of B.C. report found that RCMP officers did nothing wrong when they used a spike belt in an attempt to stop a Honda Civic driving at extreme speeds and heading towards the town of Sicamous in the Shuswap in May 2021.

The police watchdog's complete report had not been released until court proceedings had concluded, although it made its conclusion the RCMP did not commit an offence in November 2021.

Last month the driver of the vehicle, Dorian Bell, was sentenced to four and a half years in jail for dangerous driving causing death.

Bell was high on meth at the time and was giving his neighbour, Brittany Thompson, a ride from Salmon Arm back to Malakwa when the incident happened. Thompson was killed, leaving behind four children.

READ MORE: Shuswap man gets four years in prison for crash that killed mom of four

The IIO report said an RCMP officer noticed the Honda Civic driving at extreme speeds "aggressively and dangerously" leaving Salmon Arm towards Sicamous.

Bell drove the vehicle recklessly, passing on double solid yellow lines, attempting to overtake a semi-trailer truck on a blind bend, and passing another vehicle on the inside.

"On the shoulder… in the ditch, it was the craziest thing I have ever seen," an unnamed RCMP officer said in the report.

The officer said that even driving at 140 km/h they were still not able to catch up with the Honda.

The report said a number of civilian witnesses reported the car driving recklessly with one saying Bell was "driving like a maniac."

RCMP officers in Sicamous were worried that the vehicle driving at high speeds would be a danger if allowed to enter the small town.

Police set up a roadblock at the east end of the Bruhn Bridge close to Sicamous.

READ MORE: Kamloops man hospitalized in hammer attack during morning break-in 

"A police vehicle was stationed facing east in the westbound lane, and as the Honda approached, the (RCMP officer) laid a spike belt across the eastbound lane," the report says.

"When the Honda reached the roadblock, it did not stop or slow down but instead swerved partially around the spike belt onto the highway shoulder. It then skidded out of control across the highway and rolled down an embankment into a gravel parking area approximately 10 metres below."

Paramedics attempted to resuscitate Thompson but she was declared dead at the scene.

Bell was airlifted to hospital.

"The deployment of a spike belt in front of a speeding vehicle is inherently risky," the report said. "Because of the risk of serious harm that it creates, it should only be resorted to when that risk is balanced by the risk posed to the public by the speeding driver."

The police watchdog found that the use of the spike belt was justified since the risk it created was less than the risk of Bell continuing to drive at high speed through the town.

The report found that the RCMP officers' deployment of the spike belt wasn't "exactly consistent" with local RCMP policy recommendations.

"But it cannot be said to have been improper, or to have contributed in any way to the harms suffered by the two (people in the car)," the report said.

The location chosen gave Bell plenty of time to see the police vehicles on the road ahead and provided ample time to stop.

"Instead (Bell) made the unfortunate decision to swerve onto the soft, sandy shoulder where the loss of traction evidently caused a dramatic loss of control and the resulting crash," the watchdog said.

At an earlier court appearance, Thompson's husband had submitted a statement to the court.

"You took away my wife, you took away my best friend, you took away the mother to our children... I am angry, confused, devastated, numb, and now live with anxiety and fear every day," the statement read.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 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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