An accident that occurred on Sunday, January 19th, closed the southbound lanes of the Pat Bay Highway for approximately 4 hours while police investigated.
The 29 year old driver of a red 1968 MG convertible had been driving northbound in the southbound lanes when he struck an oncoming vehicle head on. The other vehicle, a 1997 Ford Aerostar van, was occupied by a 57 year old male driver, as well as his 57 year old wife.
The head on collision occurred between the Quadra Street and Royal Oak overpasses, on a flat section of the roadway directly in front of the Royal Oak Plaza. Both vehicles sustained extensive damage from the collision.
Both 57 year old occupants of the van were transported to hospital for assessment. The injuries sustained were non-life threatening. The female passenger sustained an injury to one of her hands that may have required further medical intervention. The male passenger suffered bruising.
The 29 year old suspect driver suffered from deep lacerations to his face and was believed, at first, to have suffered serious injuries. The suspect driver was transported to hospital where he was medically cleared, at which time he was detained for a psychiatric assessment.
Investigators have been able to piece together that the 29 year old driver had already had contacts with police several times in the hours before this event.
At just after 1 a.m., a VICPD officer stopped the driver in the area of Quadra Street at Fort Street for passing another vehicle unsafely. The driver was issued a violation ticket and allowed to proceed.
At around 3 a.m., VICPD officers observed a vehicle being driven in a very erratic fashion in the area of Douglas Street and Yates Street. When officers attempted to pull the vehicle over, the vehicle failed to stop. Officers confirmed the licence plate of the vehicle prior to ceasing their efforts to stop the vehicle. The threat to the public to continue their efforts were considered too great.
VICPD notified Saanich Police of their interest in the subject vehicle, including the vehicle description and last known location of the vehicle.
Shortly thereafter, Saanich Police observed the vehicle travelling at a very high rate of speed on Highway 1. Officers decided not to pursue the vehicle as doing so could have increased the immediate risk to the public. The registered owner of the vehicle was determined to have an address in Saanich. Officers attended to the address with the hopes of locating the vehicle and driver, however, were not successful. One other address known to frequent by the driver in Saanich was also checked, again without success.
At around 4:23 a.m., a member from the RCMP Shawnigan Lake Detachment was assisting Westshore RCMP on the Malahat drive, attempting to locate a stolen vehicle. The officer observed a vehicle parked on the roadside with the driver door open, and a person standing nearby. The officer stopped and engaged in a brief conversation with the driver prior to continuing with the efforts for their other investigation. This driver and vehicle were later confirmed to be the same vehicle and driver inolved in the accident in Saanich.
The RCMP member had not received any notification of the interest in the subject vehicle or driver. It was determined that although a CRD wide BOLF (Be On The Lookout For) was issued shortly after VICPD attempted to stop the vehicle, Shawnigan Lake Detachment would not have received this notification.
VICPD received a report of a hit and run to an occupied taxi cab that had occurred at Blanshard Street and Bay Street at around 2:35 a.m., with a vehicle that was determined to be similar in description to the vehicle involved in the crash. This incident was not reported immediately to police, and therefore, the immediate possible connection could not be made. VICPD continue to investigate that incident.
The 29 year old driver, a Saanich resident, was known to police, but not for prior criminal matters. It was determined that the driver had had several prior contacts with Police relating to matters concerning the mental health and well-being of the individual.
Saanich Police and VICPD officers will be continuing with this investigation to determine what charges may be laid relating to these incidents which appear to have occurred over the ten hour period. Criminal charges, as well as charges under the Motor Vehicle Act, are expected to be considered. Once the investigation has been completed, the information and suggested charges will be forwarded to Crown for approval.
The driver of the vehicle continues to be held for physciatric assessment.
Information has been forwarded to the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, requesting a review of the driving record and circumstances of these allegations. It will be at the discretion of the OSMV to determine whether the driving privileges of the 29 year old male will be suspended.
Anyone who may have observed this vehicle being operated in an erratic fashion between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday January 19, 2014, are asked to contact the Saanich Police Department at 250-475-4321.
Sgt. Steve Eassie #158