Vehicle that caused fiery, fatal crash near Alberta logging town was stolen

A minivan involved in a deadly head-on collision with a truck during a police chase on the wrong side of a highway was stolen, the head of a provincial review agency said Friday.

HINTON — A minivan involved in a deadly head-on collision with a truck during a police chase on the wrong side of a highway was stolen, the head of a provincial review agency said Friday.

Both the 21-year-old operator of the minivan and the innocent driver of the pickup were killed in the fiery crash near Hinton, Alta.

Clifton Purvis, executive director of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, wouldn’t say where the vehicle was taken from. But he suggested the fact it had been reported stolen may explain why the driver failed to stop for Mounties, who had tried to pull him over near the community around suppertime Thursday.

The situation began well to the west of Hinton when an off-duty RCMP officer reported a van being driven erratically.

The driver refused to stop for a police cruiser at the east gates of Jasper National Park. But Purvis said police did not pursue the van at that point and instead informed officers in Hinton that the vehicle was headed east their way on Highway 16.

The driver didn’t stop for police in Hinton either and sped away as it entered the community with at least two cruisers in pursuit.

“It then began to travel eastbound in the westbound lanes of the divided highway that runs through the town of Hinton,” Purvis said.

What happened next is still under investigation, but early reports suggest the van veered back into the proper lane, before again steering into the oncoming lanes of traffic, he said.

Drivers who saw the van coming at them were forced to get out of its way.

“I know that there are reports that numerous cars took evasive action to avoid a collision.”

Police have said the van swerved to avoid one vehicle as it reached the community’s eastern boundary, but collided with the truck. The wreckage then burst into flames.

It’s believed both male drivers were killed before the fire.

There were no passengers in either vehicle, Purvis said.

Efforts were still being made Friday to officially identify both men. Because no positive identification had been made, Purvis couldn’t say whether the driver of the stolen vehicle was known to police.

The agency’s job will be to examine the conduct of RCMP officers.

“After gathering all the facts, we will examine the conduct of the RCMP, officers involved in this incident, and determine whether their actions were justified and lawful.”

It’s difficult to say just how many police vehicles may have been involved, he said.

“That will be one of the things we’ll look at and determine when police vehicles became involved in the pursuit and what their roles were.”

Investigators will speak to the RCMP officers, any other witnesses and police dispatchers.

And they also have a key piece of evidence to rely on — the RCMP vehicles involved were equipped with video recorders.

“We’ve secured that evidence so we have a very clear visual of what the police were looking at when they were involved in this situation,” Purvis said.

Only three of the 47 cases involving police that the agency has investigated involved pursuits.

The review could take months as investigators wait for results of tests to determine whether drugs or alcohol may have been factors.

Just Posted

Forest fire smoke alert for Central Alberta

Poor air quality and reduced visibility

Ponoka liquor store robbed

One suspect charged so far

Women’s Outreach looking for school supplies for low income Central Albertans

With the back-to-school season upon us, Women’s Outreach is looking to the… Continue reading

Red Deerian spreads kindness with one card at a time

One Red Deerian wants to combat bullying by spreading kindness in the… Continue reading

Men posing as repo men attempt to steal vehicle in Red Deer County

Two men attempted to steal a utility vehicle from a Red Deer… Continue reading

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Turning on Trump doesn’t buy credibility for black Americans

WASHINGTON — For years, Omarosa Manigault Newman stood at Donald Trump’s side,… Continue reading

Senior Chinese monk accused of sexual misconduct quits post

BEIJING — One of China’s most high-profile Buddhist monks has resigned from… Continue reading

Priests molested 1,000 children in Pennsylvania, report says

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while he was… Continue reading

Death toll hits 39 in Italy bridge collapse; blame begins

GENOA, Italy — Italian emergency workers pulled two more bodies out of… Continue reading

Constellation Brands spending $5 billion to increase stake in Canopy Growth

SMITH FALLS, Ont. — Constellation Brands has signed a deal to invest… Continue reading

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

TORONTO — When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her… Continue reading

Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

TORONTO — The case of Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard, who faces three… Continue reading

Fredericton woman recounts terrifying moments after gunshots rang out

FREDERICTON — She awoke to the crack of gunfire, the shots fired… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month