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Crash victim's family seeking answers in court

An RCMP cruiser, which had two tires blown out and the trunk damaged, came to rest up against this Auto Road building, across the road from where a driver died after colliding with a parked dump truck on June 21. - File photo
An RCMP cruiser, which had two tires blown out and the trunk damaged, came to rest up against this Auto Road building, across the road from where a driver died after colliding with a parked dump truck on June 21.
— image credit: File photo

The family of a woman killed in a collision involving a high speed police chase is reassured that the system is holding someone accountable.

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 Courtenay Eggen on June 20.

The Criminal Justice Branch approved the charge 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.

Ian Eggen, Courtenay’s father, says there is some disappointment that the Crown can’t connect Courtney Eggen’s death with the criminal charge.

He, notes, however, the charge does show the police and special investigators are being diligent.

“My reaction is up and down. There’s no great joy, but the fact that someone is being held accountable is important... It has given me reassurance that the system in place is working and nothing is being covered up.”

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 was 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.

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.

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,  officials refused to comment further.

Meanwhile Eggen and the rest of Courtenay’s family and friends still have many unanswered questions.

“Why did she run? Why was there a chase? Was it called off? I guess we will be waiting for the case to take its due course in court.”

Chan’s first appearance in Salmon Arm Provincial Court will be Feb. 4.

 

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