The Chief Civilian Director of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has determined that a police officer was not at fault after a head-on collision in Maple Ridge that sent a woman to hospital.
Around 5 p.m. on June 8, members of the B.C. Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit were on patrol in Maple Ridge in an unmarked police SUV and when a grey Nissan with no front licence plate passed them as they were travelling eastbound on 113B Avenue, according to an Independent Investigations Office decision, released Wednesday, Jan. 8.
The two officers executed a U-turn to follow the Nissan and ran a check on a licence plate in the back window of the vehicle, says the decision from Ronald J. MacDonald, chief civilian director of the IIO.
The plate came back registered to a woman born in the 1960s, but the driver of the Nissan appeared to be a young male.
After the Nissan entered a roundabout at the Golden Ears Bridge on-ramp and exited it the way it had come, the officers became more suspicious as the driver looked over at them. They followed the Nissan around the traffic circle and sped up to close the distance between the two cars, according to the decision.
It noted that the speed limit on 113B Ave. is 70 km/h and that the officer’s vehicle was going no faster than about 55 km/h approaching the on-ramp. As it exited, the vehicle’s speed increased “momentarily” to about 94 km/h, then dropped to 57 km/h to proceed through a second roundabout, then increased again to about 104 km/h.
A witness said halfway through the second roundabout he saw the blue and red emergency lights turn on the front grill area of the police vehicle and heard a siren, says the decision.
Another witness said that after she saw the emergency lights of the police vehicle switched on, the Nissan sped up “quite substantially.”
The Nissan then moved into the westbound lane to overtake another vehicle and was involved in a head-on collision with a red Mazda as it turned onto 113B Ave. into the path of the suspect vehicle.
One person in the Mazda was taken to hospital with a fractured rib, minor collapsed lung and a fractured finger.
The driver of the Nissan fled on foot.
MacDonald says in his decision that the officer’s driving, in this case, was a justified attempt to stop the Nissan.
“The U-turn and the brief periods of speed over the posted limit were for a legitimate purpose, as the officers were investigating a vehicle for possible Motor Vehicle Act offences, and perhaps other matters,” MacDonald wrote.
“On the evidence, there was only light traffic in the area at the time, roads were dry, and visibility was good.”
MacDonald added that the driving officer’s actions did not create a danger for other road users.
MacDonald concluded that the injuries that were caused at the time of the crash were due to the dangerous driving of the man driving the Nissan and not by the officer.
MacDonald will not be referring the case to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.