A man who lives near Lloydminster is calling for changes to RCMP policy after officers were called off the pursuit of a stolen truck later involved in a crash that killed three people Friday.
Speaking to Gormley Monday, Curtis Byford said he called police hours before the crash after the truck came up to his acreage property around 1 a.m. with two other vehicles.
“My senses were tingling, something wasn’t right,” he said.
Byford described creeping out of bed so he didn’t wake his family and calling 911 to alert police of the situation.
He said he saw men get out of two of the vehicles before the first truck pulled away and left the area. He then turned on the lights outside his home, and began making noise in case the men were still near his yard.
He said Maidstone RCMP members arrived about 46 minutes after the initial 911 call. While they were taking Byford’s statement, the truck returned.
“His lights lit up the cop car and instantly just hammered the brakes, put it in reverse and was gone,” he said. “The cop was in my driveway and just took off after him … he was right on him.”
The chase, however, didn’t last long. Maidstone RCMP said in a release Saturday a supervisor called it off after assessing the situation, following national policy regarding high-risk pursuits.
Byford said the officers weren’t happy when they returned to his acreage after being called off.
“(The officer) was beyond frustrated,” he said.
Thirty-five minutes after the pursuit ended, the stolen truck collided with a mini-van carrying four Liberian-Canadian women from Edmonton. Three of the women died, while the only survivor is reported to be in critical condition at an Edmonton hospital.
Byford said it’s time for the RCMP to change their vehicle pursuit policies.
“It’s wide open country road, if there was any danger they would see the headlights two or three kilometres ahead,” he said.
The acreage owner expressed his frustrations with the situation in a Facebook post Friday afternoon, recounting the ordeal and including photos he took during the incident. The post has since garnered more than 7,000 shares and 400 comments.
Byford has also been approached by other police officers, telling him to continue to speak up for change on the policy.
“They’re saying we need public outcry for this to change,” he said.
Byford said he’s received several copy-and-pasted messages from officers, saying suspects are figuring out if they flee at a high rate of speed for a certain period of time the chase will be called off.
“It’s really weird to be a middle man for this,” Byford said of his role. “Let’s get the criminal and treat him like a criminal.”
This is an open letter to ANYONE, any politician any law maker anyone who is supposed to represent us, then do it …