Criminal investigation ongoing into Stewart Rd. Crash

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A criminal investigation is ongoing into a serious SUV crash on Salt Spring Island in early April, meanwhile an Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO) investigation into police involvement in arresting the driver has been concluded.

Police attended a “serious, single-vehicle collision” just after 3:30 p.m April 2 in the 200 block of Stewart Road an RCMP press release stated. In an April 27 update, Salt Spring detachment commander Sgt. Clive Seabrook explained a red SUV had gone down an embankment, a collision so severe that it resulted in the engine of the vehicle being torn from the chassis.

Witnesses reported that the SUV was being driven “in an unsafe manner” prior to the crash, according to RCMP.

Police, firefighters and ambulance personnel attended the scene. Witnesses identified a man at the scene as the driver, who police believed to be intoxicated.

“Shortly after arriving on scene, officers learned that the driver had outstanding warrants for his arrest, was prohibited from driving, and believed that his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol,” the RCMP stated. “The man resisted arrest and required three officers to safely arrest him.”

The man was transported to hospital by police, and was later moved to another hospital to treat what the IIO stated were serious but not life-threatening injuries.  

An IIO investigation was opened to determine whether police played any role in the injuries the man sustained. A civilian-led police oversight agency, the IIO is tasked with investigating all incidents of death or serious harm where these outcomes could have been the result of action or inaction of an on- or off-duty police officer. 

“​​Independent witnesses who spoke to the male driver before police arrived observed that he had serious injuries and said he had been in a collision,” the IIO stated. “The witnesses confirm that police arrived a short time later, and there was a brief struggle while the officers took the man into custody.” 

The head of the IIO, the chief civilian director, confirmed April 26 that the investigation has been concluded and determined that “police actions did not cause serious harm.” In the course of their investigation, the IIO reviewed statements from the driver, witnesses and police. 

“The independent civilian witnesses confirm that the man was injured in the collision prior to police attendance, and the limited use of force employed to take the man into custody did not cause the serious injuries he sustained,” the IIO stated.

The RCMP continue to investigate the crash as a criminal matter, and are asking anyone with further information to contact the Salt Spring detachment at 250-537-5555.

Serious incidents such as this can greatly impact those directly involved in the collision as well as first responders,” Seabrook stated. “We would like to thank Salt Spring residents for your unwavering community support as we supported our officers in this difficult time.

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