Independent Investigations Office
For Immediate Release
Surrey, B.C. – The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC has concluded an investigation into a motor vehicle incident in Kelowna on Highway 97 North.
On June 1, 2020 at about 1:15 a.m., a member of the public called police to report signs of an apparent collision, including vehicle debris and damaged road-side barriers at the edge of Highway 97 North, but did not see a vehicle. Although the caller had initially stated the location was near University Way, the caller then corrected himself, indicating it was closer to the John Hindle Road off ramp.
An officer was sent to survey the scene but went to the intersection at University Way – as indicated by the dispatcher – instead of the John Hindle Road off ramp, about 1.2 kilometres away. As there were no signs of a collision at University Way, the officer departed.
Later that morning at approximately 5:35 a.m., a bystander on the Okanagan Rail Trail (a trail which runs parallel to Highway 97 North) called police to report a rolled over vehicle. The male driver had been ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.
CCTV footage later retrieved from a business near the location of the damaged road-side barriers on Highway 97 North showed that the collision occurred at approximately 12:30 a.m. The vehicle appeared to collide with an object on the side of the road, then moved out of the camera view towards the edge of the highway.
A post-mortem examination of the deceased revealed extensive injuries which would have resulted in a rapid death. As such, the man would likely have died well before the initial call to police was made, approximately 45 minutes after the collision. In addition, IIO investigators confirmed that the resting location of the vehicle could not be observed from the highway where it went off the road near the John Hindle Road off ramp. The collision location error would therefore not have changed this unfortunate outcome.
The IIO’s Chief Civilian Director has reviewed the evidence – including statements from independent witnesses, CCTV and the post-mortem examination report – and determined that the death of the man was not the result of police actions or inaction. The investigation is therefore concluded.
The IIO is the independent civilian oversight agency of the police in British Columbia. It investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.