Despite more compliance, officers were kept busy during the Victoria Day long weekend as campers and recreationalists flocked to Central Alberta’s West Country.
Sgt. Chris Matechuk, of the Rocky Mountain House RCMP detachment, said the weekend was less rowdy than last year but he did note an ATV fatality.
Police say a 22-year-old man from Wetaskiwin was ATV-ing in the Seven O’clock Creek area about 10-km south of Hwy 752 at approximately 7 p.m. Sunday night.
“He was quading down a trail and came to a site where a bridge was taken out,” Matechuk said on Monday.
“The trail went off to one side, down and around and back up but he went straight through.”
Two campers who were with the man at the time of the collision were unable to call for help with limited cellphone service.
Police were notified about the incident after the campers elected to drive the severely injured man to the Rocky Mountain House Health Centre. Police continue to investigate the cause of the collision.
The man was said to be wearing a helmet. No further details or the identity of the man were released.
On Friday night Mounties initiated a large checkstop on Hwy 11 just before the Crimson Lake turn off, west of Rocky Mountain House.
Matechuk said they wrote 250 tickets and laid two impaired driving charges, 20 liquor-related charges, along with three drug charges. There were also roaming checkstops through out the weekend, with Sustainable Resource Development, Clearwater County, Fish and Wildlife, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and the fire department in participation.
Meanwhile, in Sundre, officers were also kept busy through the weekend. Cpl. Ryan Hodge of the Sundre RCMP detachment said they too dealt with an incident involving an ATV.
On Friday afternoon, at approximately 3 p.m. emergency services were called to a remote area south of Hwy 734, approximately 70-km west of Sundre.
A man in his 20s had to be airlifted by STARS Air Ambulance after his ATV rolled.
The man suffered two broken arms and was lucky that he wasn’t more injured as he wasn’t wearing a helmet at the time of accident, said STARS media liaison Cam Heke.
“The power, weight and the instability of the quad with the increase risk of a liquor . . . you’re asking for a lot of trouble,” Hodge said.
The officer also noted a stabbing incident after two male campers got in a heated argument on Crown land near the popular Rig Street area west of Caroline. The incident continues to be under investigation.
“The thing that was frustrating over all the emergency services was that some people who come out to the West Country are not necessarily prepared,” Hodge said.
“When they require emergency services they cannot give proper directions for us to get to them. That ties us up a lot and also delays our response so if there are serious injuries it could endanger someone’s life.”
Sustainable Resource Development acting lands manager Don Livingston said the number of campers were down this year.
He thinks a fire ban earlier on in the week, which covered a large swath of the province’s forests, may have had something to do with it. Many made last-minute decisions to camp once the fire ban was lifted on Friday afternoon.
“For the most part there is definitely a lot of environmental damage from the ATV’s for sure,” Livingston admitted, adding that most of the damage was in the South Fork area near Hwy 752.
Human caused fires near Elder Flats, directly west of Rocky Mountain House and near Hwy 752 on Saturday and Sunday also kept officials run ragged.
On Monday Livingston said there was garbage left on the forest floor and they were out early reminding people to clean up.
Closer to Red Deer, Sgt. Paul Simard of the Central Alberta Integrated Traffic Unit said there were no major traffic incidents or issues on the highways.
“It was a routine weekend,” he said.
Some campers who headed out to provincial campgrounds were met with a strict liquor bans. The ban was being enforced at Brewers Campground at Gull Lake, 45-km north of Red Deer.
But that didn’t hamper Christian Swain and Taylor Cardinal’s high school graduation camping celebration.
“We were just here to camp,” they said while cooking up marsh mellows.
The students from Leduc got to their site on Sunday evening and said things were busy on Monday afternoon.
“There was a huge line up trying to get out of the campground,” they said.
In Sylvan Lake things were tame as far as May long weekends go, said Cpl. Kevin Halwa, of the Sylvan Lake RCMP detachment.
“We had 10 people in custody for numerous offenses in relation to being drunk in public, that sort of thing,” he said.
“We wrote a lot of traffic tickets for things like distracted driving but nothing too serious happened with us.”
For the most part temperatures, hitting the mid teens, were prime for campers and recreationalists over the weekend — a part from a chilly start on Friday.
Alberta RCMP and sheriff integrated traffic units laid 3,263 charges across the province on the May long weekend last year. These included impaired driving, careless driving, speeding and stunting, to name a few.