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Salmon Arm RCMP officer faces dangerous driving charge
A criminal charge of dangerous driving has been laid against Salmon Arm RCMP Const. Micah Chan in regards to the crash that killed 21-year-old Courtney Eggen on June 20.
The Criminal Justice Branch approved the charge this afternoon, Dec. 19, in relation to Chan's alleged high-speed pursuit of Eggen's vehicle into Salmon Arm's Industrial Park. Eggen, who was from Cherryville, crashed into a parked dump truck and died at the scene.
Despite the fatality, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch issued a statement saying it concluded the evidence, "does not provide a substantial likelihood of conviction for dangerous driving causing death."
This is because, "the prosecution cannot prove that the officer's driving conduct factually and legally contributed to the crash of the second vehicle and the death of its driver."
The report goes on to state: "The available evidence, including the evidence of two civilian witnesses, indicates that Const. Chan was a significant distance behind the other driver prior to the fatal crash."
Chan is presumed innocent and it will be the duty of Crown Counsel to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an offence has been committed.
The incident was reviewed by B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the first time such an investigation has taken place in Salmon Arm.
The incident took place just before midnight and the IIO was alerted at 12:30 a.m. June 21.
The report indicates the situation began when Chan reportedly observed Eggen's vehicle failing to stop at a stop sign at Auto Road and 30th Street NE.
The report goes on to state that Chan, who was monitoring traffic at the location, intended to pull over the vehicle for Motor Vehicle Act violations and began to follow it in an attempt to catch up.
"The second driver accelerated to a high rate of speed and Const. Chan allegedly pursued the vehicle at a high speed," says the report, which goes on to say that Eggen ultimately lost control of her vehicle, resulting in the fatal collision.
"A short time later, Const. Chan allegedly lost control of his police vehicle at approximately the same location and slid off the road."
Chan's police cruiser was observed the next day on the opposite side of Auto Road near 50th Avenue, wedged between a building and a grassy embankment. Investigators were checking tire marks where it appeared the cruiser had gone over the edge of the road and down the short slope. Two tires on the police cruiser were blown out and its trunk was damaged when it collided with the building.
Crown counsel has also concluded, "it is not possible to establish beyond a reasonable doubt what factors initially caused the other driver to engage in high-speed driving and/or what factors led to the loss of control that resulted in the fatal collision."
In the initial statements from the IIO, it was indicated that, "the pursuit was ordered terminated."
The Criminal Justice Branch release makes no mention of this in its report and, as the matter is now before the courts, refused to comment further.
Chan's first appearance in Salmon Arm Provincial Court will be Feb. 4.