A clearer picture of the RCMP perspective on a police pursuit that led to a multi-vehicle MVI and an extended closure of the Trans-Canada Highway east of Revelstoke on Mar. 24 has emerged after inquiries from revelstokemountaineer.com.
The RCMP say one of their reasons for pursuing the vehicle police allege was driven by a man wanted on outstanding warrants was safety concern for the passenger in the vehicle, RCMP say.
The RCMP say the woman had been the victim of a previous alleged assault by the by the man police allege was the driver of the fleeing vehicle, and that he was under a court order that prevented him from being in contact with the woman.
“The female passenger was listed on a no contact order that was in effect and the accused was breaching that order in the presence of the passenger,” said Cpl. Chris Dodds of the Revelstoke RCMP in response to questions from revelstokemountaineer.com. “Due to the no contact order and previous history between the accused and the victim, there were reasonable grounds to believe that there was a high risk to the female passenger while in the presence of the accused.”
Dodds said police also felt there was a, “reasonable assumption that the accused would attempt to avoid apprehension which could place the general public, the passenger and the police at risk and as such, the initial attempt at stopping the vehicle was halted.”
Court records show that Ruben James Ehikhamen, 34, faced charges of assault and uttering threats from two incidents in December, 2021 in Chilliwack, B.C.
The assault allegations have not been proven in court.
Later in the month, he faced charges for breaching a release order stemming from the case, then, on Mar. 21, 2022, the court granted a Crown application for a warrant for his arrest.
Two days later, on Mar. 23 at around 11 p.m., RCMP say Sicamous RCMP responded to assist the BC Ambulance Service with a man who was experiencing a “medical issue” in a motel in Sicamous. The man was taken to hospital in Salmon Arm where he was treated and, police say, sedated. Revelstoke RCMP declined to describe his medical issue, citing privacy.
RCMP say they determined the man was wanted on three outstanding warrants for his arrest and planned to arrest him later.
“The accused was sedated in hospital and Sicamous RCMP had arranged for him to be arrested later in the day,” Cpl. Chris Dodds said in a written response.
Then, at around noon on Mar. 24, police allege the woman, who has not been named, arrived at the hospital in a vehicle and that Ehikhamen left in that vehicle. Police said the vehicle was “quickly spotted” and that a pursuit followed.
Police say they tried to use a spike belt to deflate the vehicle’s tires at one point, but say they were not successful.
In a previous story on revelstokemountaineer.com, police said RCMP from Sicamous initiated the pursuit about 10-15 kilometres west of Revelstoke, then terminated the pursuit about five kilometres east of Revelstoke due to erratic and dangerous operation of the vehicle being pursued, and that the crash involving four other vehicles happened about 50 kilometres east of Revelstoke, east of Albert Canyon. Court records list the place of offense as Rogers Pass.
There was avalanche control work on the Trans-Canada Highway that day, starting at 12:30 p.m. Police said that the highway had re-opened after the control work, but there were still backlogged vehicles stopped on the highway due to the closure.
RCMP say after the vehicle came to a stop, the man exited the vehicle and tried to get into other vehicles.
“The suspect then allegedly attempted to steal an unoccupied vehicle, attempted to jump into a moving vehicle and also attempted to car jack a third vehicle which was occupied by a family, including a child,” RCMP said in a statement.
Ruben James Ehikhamen, 34, of no fixed address, is facing charges of flight from police, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, robbery, theft of a motor vehicle, mischief, resisting arrest, and failing to comply with an undertaking.
None of the charges have been tested in court.
Ehikhamen is in custody and is scheduled to make an appearance in Revelstoke court on April 6. He is also scheduled to appear in court in Chilliwack related to the assault charges stemming from December 2021.
The RCMP say the passenger is not facing charges. She was treated in hospital for minor injuries. Police said there were no serious injuries in the incident.
DriveBC first announced the closure due to the incident at just after 3 p.m. on Mar. 24. The highway reopened about 10 hours later at around 1 a.m.
B.C. police pursuit regulations
Because there is a high risk of injury involved in police pursuits, including to innocent bystanders, both internal RCMP policy and B.C. provincial regulation set rules around when police can and cannot pursue a vehicle.
Under the B.C. Emergency Vehicle Driving Regulation, to engage in a pursuit, a peace officer must have an emergency light and siren activated, and have reasonable grounds to believe that the driver or a passenger in the vehicle being or to be pursued has committed, is committing or is about to commit an offence, and that the seriousness of the offence and the need for immediate apprehension outweigh the risk to the safety of members of the public that may be created by the pursuit.