The northbound lanes of the Trans Canada Highway north of the Duke Point turnoff were closed for an RCMP investigation after a serious crash Jan. 14. NEWS BULLETIN file photo

Pickup reached speeds up to 179 km/h before double-fatal crash in Nanaimo, report finds

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. releases report on Jan. 14 incident

The driver of a pickup truck being followed by police reached speeds up to 179 kilometres per hour on the wrong side of the highway before causing a double-fatal crash, a report has found.

Police acted appropriately in the moments leading up to the head-on crash Jan. 14 on the Trans-Canada Highway in Nanaimo, says the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.

The IIO released its report Tuesday morning on the incident.

The report found that a GMC Sierra pickup being followed by police reached speeds up to 179km/h, while the RCMP officer following never exceeded the speed limit of 90 km/h.

The Sierra narrowly avoided a head-on crash moments before the fatal crash. The driver of that other vehicle told investigators that the police vehicle following the pickup was travelling at the speed limit and in the correct lane.

The IIO report notes that the officer was bound by B.C.’s Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation, “which sets out strict limits on the circumstances in which an officer may engage or continue a pursuit. The circumstances here did not meet that regulatory threshold, so [the officer] quite correctly chose not to pursue [the suspect] but instead ‘let him go.’”

According to the report, the officer decided to pull over the Sierra, which had “aroused her suspicions,” in a residential area in Nanaimo. She activated her emergency lights, after which the pickup “increased its speed and drove away in the direction of the highway.” When the officer saw the pickup reach the highway and head south, “she switched off her emergency lights and radioed that the pickup was ‘trying to take off’ and that she was going to ‘let him go.’”

The report found that RCMP vehicle was more than a kilometre behind on the highway at the time the fatal crash occurred.

The driver of the pickup and a driver of a compact SUV were killed in the crash.

UPDATE: Police watchdog investigating after crash results in deaths near Nanaimo

UPDATE: Gofundme campaign started for wife of victim in double fatal head-on crash

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