The IIO have concluded that police were not responsible for the Aug. 24 four-car collision. (Screenshot/ Ryan Burghardt)

Police watchdog concludes VicPD officer not at fault in high-speed four-car collision

One man was seriously injured as a result of the Aug. 24 collision

A police watchdog has determined that a Victoria police officer did not commit any offence in relation to a four-vehicle collision last August.

On Aug. 24, 2019 shortly after midnight, the driver of a white pickup truck slammed into three other vehicles at the intersection of Bay and Government streets after interacting with a police patrol. The pickup truck driver ran from the scene of the crash, while the three other drivers were taken to hospital with at least one experiencing serious injuries.

This prompted an external investigation by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) which looks into all incidences that involve police.

VIDEO: High-speed crash at Douglas and Bay Streets caught on camera

The report, issued by Chief Civilian Director Ronald J. MacDonald, focuses on the account of one driver, simply identified as “Affected Person” or AP, who had been driving between work locations and suffered serious injuries, including a broken ankle. MacDonald’s report also looked at witness accounts, scene examination, closed-circuit television recordings and police records.

A GoFundMe page started after the accident identified a man named Aaron as one of the victims, and that he’d been on duty as a security guard when he was struck. According to the fundraiser page, Aaron received “a broken ankle, severe whiplash, lacerations, bruising and muscle damage” as well as “flashbacks and severe PTSD.”

READ MORE: Fundraising campaigns crop up for victims of high-speed Bay Street crash

He was also allegedly ordered off of work for six weeks.

According to the IIO report, a police officer in a patrol car had first noticed the pickup truck driver near Gorge Road East and Rock Bay Avenue. The officer turned on the emergency lights on his marked vehicle and tried to conduct a traffic stop. The pickup slowed, but then sped away down Rock Bay Avenue. The police officer followed him for about two or three blocks before switching off his emergency lights, turning onto John Street and radioing in saying he was not pursuing.

A civilian witness told IIO investigators that it looked as though the pickup truck “would kill somebody, the way it was being driven.”

The truck continued south and turned left onto Bay Street and ran a red light at Government Street, colliding with the three vehicles. The pickup driver fled on foot before being found and arrested.

ALSO READ: B.C. police watchdog investigating high-speed crash in Victoria

The IIO concluded there were no lights or sirens around the intersection prior to the collision, and that police arrived afterwards, including the original officer, to attend the scene.

“The evidence collected makes it clear that Officer 1 did no more than attempt a Motor Vehicle Act traffic stop, and made the appropriate decision not to pursue when the pick-up fled at high speed. Officer 1 turned off his emergency lights, slowed and turned off onto a side street. What happened after that was the direct result of the actions of the pick-up’s driver,” MacDonald wrote. “Accordingly, as the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO, I do not consider that there are reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown Counsel for consideration of charges.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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