WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton taxi driver being recognized by police for going out of his way to help keep city streets safe. Laurel Gregory explains.
EDMONTON – A local cab driver has been honoured by the Edmonton Police Service for helping officers catch two suspected impaired drivers.
“I’m very honoured. I didn’t think anything like this would ever happen,” Kennith Thomas said shortly after receiving his award at the Edmonton Police Commission’s monthly meeting Thursday evening.
Around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 31, Thomas was in the area of 107 Ave. and 109 St. when he saw a vehicle swerve and nearly hit another vehicle.
“I spun my van around and just followed him,” Thomas recalled.
The taxi driver phoned police and followed the vehicle to the Southgate LRT station.
“He ended up on the LRT tracks,” Thomas said. “He lost his rim in Southgate parking lot and so when he ended up on the tracks he was stuck… It was a good thing it was early in the morning when the LRT wasn’t running.”
Thomas says the driver attempted to push the vehicle off the tracks. Police arrived shortly after and arrested the suspect.
The most recent case happened last weekend along Whyte Avenue. Just after midnight Saturday, police say a Dodge Neon hit a parked car between 103 and 104 Streets.
“He was behind me and I heard a bang and I looked in my mirror and his car was on the side and he was sliding down Whyte Ave. So I pulled over,” said Thomas.
A large crowd of people gathered and helped the driver out of the vehicle.
“While he was sitting there, there were some people saying, ‘Just run, go home. Phone the cops when you get home and tell them your car was stolen.’ And I thought, ‘well, that’s not right.'”
Thomas says the driver took off and boarded a nearby bus, so he called police and started following the bus.
“I stayed with him and when we got to the University Station there was eight cop cars coming at him. I just said, ‘It’s the gentleman in the back of the bus on the right side’,” he explained.
“They went on the bus and walked him off.”
Nicholas Vaillancourt, 20, was arrested and charged with impaired driving and hit and run.
Thursday evening, Police Chief Rod Knecht presented Thomas with a plaque, thanking him for his good deeds.
“Kenneth, on behalf of the Edmonton Police Service I’d like to present you with a small token of our appreciation.”
Knecht says police continue to see more and more Edmontonians coming forward with tips to help police.
“We’ve gotten critical information on significant files – homicides, sexual assaults – we’ve got a lot more people coming forward and we like to see that,” he said, “it shows an investment in the community and it certainly helps us.”
Thomas says he was simply doing what most people would do when faced with a similar situation.
“I don’t think I did anything too special, to be honest with you,” he said. “I did what I thought was right.”
With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News.
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