The pick-up truck crashed in a pole but no one involved was harmed. (Submitted/Lakes District News

‘Officers ensured he was safe at the gas station,’ says the RCMP

Police respond to allegations of mistreatment of crash victim

  • Nov. 18, 2020 12:00 a.m.

On Nov. 4 Lakes District News reported on a red pickup truck crash 17 kilometres west of Burns Lake by the Decker Lake mill to which we received some comments and allegations around police conduct.

The single-vehicle crash was caused when the the driver lost control, left road way and struck a pole. There were no reports of any injuries and BC Hydro attended and cleared the roadway. However, comments on the story’s link on Facebook suggested that the driver was left unattended by the Burns Lake RCMP and had to walk 25 kilometres alone.

“The driver of that pick up was left in Burns Lake… had to walk himself 25 kilometres to get home during the middle of the night. I quote the Burns Lake RCMP “we are not a taxi service” when family phoned to question the treatment after an accident like that! Beautiful way to treat a senior man,” said one of the comments on the story.

When the RCMP was asked about their response to these comments, they informed us that the gentlemen claimed he was not injured and refused medical attention several times when asked by the attending officers and a trained medical professional at the scene.

“The police then transported him to town, offering him a safe location to stay while waiting for a ride. He declined the option of going to a hotel. The officers ensured he was safe at the gas station,” said Cpl. Madonna Saunderson of the RCMP, adding that the attending officers could not transport him the entire way home as they were called to an urgent priority call that they had to immediately attend.

The family however was not happy with the lack of solutions to the old man’s problems. The man, who is 60 and lives alone at a property on Francois Lake, had no one he could call late in the night according to his daughter Courtney Fowler.

“The RCMP would not drive him home (it’s quite far!) Said that he could try and get a room for the night (didn’t solve how to get home the next day) or sit in the gas station all night. He had just got off his 10 hour shift at Canfor and was making the one and a half hour commute home. He was tired and sore from airbags deploying on him. So he walked from Burns Lake starting at about midnight to the ferry landing at Francois Lake. A logging truck picked him up there and drove him the remaining almost 40 kilometres home. He got home just after 6 a.m. cold and absolutely exhausted,” said Fowler.

She also said that both she, and her sister lived nine hours away and he couldn’t call anyone else that late in the night, as he is a very private person.

“The Burns Lake RCMP have been in communication with the man’s family and explained that officers ensured the driver was left in a safe location, and why they could not take him home. Regarding the comment “the RCMP is not a taxi service”, while this is the case, we need to ensure the safety of our community members. At this particular time, the officers were called to an urgent priority file. The man was left at a safe location and chose to leave. The officers had no reason to believe that the man was incapable of making sound decisions for himself. In further conversation with the family, they will be discussing a safety plan between the gentleman, friends and neighbours,” wrote Saunderson.

While Fowler was understanding of the RCMP’s lack of ample resources, she was still disappointed by the treatment her father received.

“The RCMP said they would always drop at a nearby safe place, no rides anywhere and I understand having limited resources… but leaving a man after an accident to fend for themselves doesn’t seem right either,” she added.

The RCMP maintained that the officers had offered to take him to a motel/hotel but he declined and the “Burns Lake RCMP has spoken with family who have advised that he is a capable man, had a cellphone and has lived in the area for over 10 years.”

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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