Third person dies following head-on crash in Chilliwack; victim ID'd as corrections officer
VANCOUVER -- A third person has died in connection with a head-on motor vehicle crash on Highway 1 in Chilliwack early Tuesday morning, according to the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
The incident began around 4 a.m. after police received a report of a vehicle going the wrong way on the freeway near Laidlaw.
A Chilliwack RCMP member spotted the suspect vehicle going westbound in the eastbound lanes near Annis Road and turned around to follow it. Another officer set up a spike belt but the suspect vehicle got around it and later crashed head-on into another vehicle, starting a fire.
The IIO says the suspect vehicle burst into flames. Officers tried to extinguish the blaze but couldn’t. Two people inside the suspect vehicle died at the scene.
Police were able to help pull a man from the wreckage of the second vehicle.
“He was taken to hospital but unfortunately his injuries were too severe and he sucummed to those last evening,” said Ron MacDonald, the chief civilian director of the IIO.
According to the facebook page for the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, the victim in the second vehicle was a corrections officer.
“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at Mountain Institution,” the post reads.
The IIO, which serves as B.C.'s police watchdog, is investigating the crash.
“We are called in to determine whether or not the actions of the police officer played any role in the incident and if so whether those actions might constitute grounds for referring the matter to the crown for consideration of criminal charges,” said MacDonald
More specifically, he said their investigation will look at “whether the police actions aggravated the situation or may well have been designed to help the situation, but still led to this tragic outcome.”
Meanwhile, MacDonald says its believed the suspect vehicle was speeding.
“We will have other forensic information that will allow us to know the speed of the police vehicles,” he explained.
MacDonald said the IIO’s investigation will also “look at radio communications between police and their dispatch. We’ll look at information from their data terminals in their cars that give us an indication of their locations and their speeds.”
The IIO says it already has some video but is looking for other video of the incident.
The investigation could take weeks or even months to complete.