Lumby RCMP officer fined for unsafe U-turn that led to serious collision
The case against a Lumby RCMP officer involved in a serious collision while on duty has resulted in a fine.
Const. Megan Valenta, 41, was fined $750 last Wednesday for an unsafe U-turn, an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act.
She will also be required to pay a victim surcharge of $113.
The charge stems from a crash on Highway 6 in August 2016 involving Valenta’s RCMP truck and a motorcycle which occurred when Valenta performed a U-turn following a traffic stop.
Because two people riding the motorbike were injured in the crash, the Independent Investigation Office, the province’s police watchdog, launched an investigation and Valenta was charged with driving without due care and attention under the Motor Vehicle Act.
Last week, Valenta pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of performing an unsafe U-turn and was fined.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Jeremy Guild noted Valenta was a police officer “whose job is to uphold the law and to protect people. She was doing exactly that by dealing with a speeding driver who, as I understand it, was also unlicenced moments before this tragic accident. I have no doubt she feels great disappointment and distress for not fulfilling her role.”
Court heard that Valenta has also completed additional driving courses and training since the collision.
“The fact that she was asked to be an instructor in relation to an advanced driver course for the police indicates that she is usually and very objectively a very capable driver. That also underscores that accidents do happen. In this case, there was clearly no desire or intent for the accident to occur. She thought she was being vigilant,” Judge Guild said.
However, Guild also noted the crash had life-changing consequences for the victims.
At the time of the crash, RCMP said the two Kelowna residents on the motorbike, a 46-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman, where taken to hospital in Vernon to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Court heard that the husband and wife on the motorcycle were sent airborne as a result of the collision and both suffered serious injuries requiring surgery.
Crown counsel Lauren Chu said the crash has had “serious life-changing consequences” for the couple.
The driver of the motorcycle broke his collar bone and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. He also suffers from depression and anxiety.
His wife, who was the passenger on the motorcycle, injured her leg and suffered permanent scarring to her face. She is unable to work as a result of the collision.
Valenta was a 13-year veteran of the RCMP when the collision occurred and her lawyer said the crash and its aftermath has also had a “huge impact on her.”
She developed anxiety and continues to see a counselor. Her lawyer said she is currently “off duty sick” but hopes to return to work.
“I don’t downplay whatsoever the injuries that these people suffered. It was a momentary lapse where she didn’t see a motorcycle,” said Valenta’s lawyer N. McDougall.
“She turned in front of it and she doesn’t deny that.”
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