IIU releases report into car crash that occurred after driver was approached by an RCMP officer

Manitoba’s police watchdog agency released its full report into a July 22, 2018 car crash in Cranberry Portage Sept. 18.

The report by the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba (IIU), which has jurisdiction over serious incidents involving on- and off-duty police officers in Manitoba, said the 19-year-old female driver of the car that crashed had alcohol, cocaine and marijuana in her system when she was admitted to hospital but did not suffer any head trauma in the crash as had been initially suspected. The driver may have suffered a seizure, later medical tests suggested.

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The IIU recommended in March that no charges be laid against an RCMP officer who approached the driver shortly before the crash but the full report was withheld until now because the driver was facing criminal charges.

The report also says that an unknown 911 caller had said the woman was driving under the influence shortly before the crash occurred. The driver told IIU investigators that she didn’t recall seeing a police vehicle on the night of the crash or any other details and had no idea how her vehicle ended up in the ditch.

The IIU says a member of the Cranberry Portage RCMP noticed a vehicle that had been idling for awhile at a junction of two roads with its high beams on in the early morning hours of July 22. When the officer pulled up beside the vehicle and turned on the police car’s flashing lights, the 19-year-old female driver in the idling vehicle sped away north on Highway 10. The police officer lost sight of the vehicle for awhile but caught up with it, off the road in a water-filled ditch, soon afterwards. The driver was unconscious and was transported to Flin Flon General Hospital and then to Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg for treatment.

IIU civilian director Zane Tessler said that there was no evidence that the officer contributed to the woman driving into the ditch and that the mandate of the IIU to investigate was tenuous at best, since the contact between the parties was limited to the RCMP officer pulling alongside the woman’s car. He also said there was no evidence about what caused the driver to go off the road.

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