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Kelowna officer cleared in accident with cyclist: IIO report

Part of Harvey Avenue near Orchard Plaza in Kelowna was closed down following a collision between an off-duty officer’s vehicle and a cyclist in May.
Part of Harvey Avenue near Orchard Plaza in Kelowna was closed down following a collision between an off-duty officer’s vehicle and a cyclist in May. Global News

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. will not be referring charges against a Kelowna RCMP officer who was involved in a car accident with a cyclist earlier this year.

On Friday, the IIO released a five-page report into the incident along Harvey Avenue on May 25.

According to the report, the officer was driving home at the end of a shift when his vehicle collided with the cyclist.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Section of Harvey Avenue in Kelowna reopened after traffic incident

The cyclist was seriously injured, suffering a broken left leg and a concussion. And because the incident involved a police officer, the IIO began an investigation.

The incident happened in front of Orchard Plaza, and that eastbound section of Harvey Avenue was closed for several hours.

“It is under the IIO’s mandate to investigate on-duty and off-duty police officers when they are involved in an incident that causes serious harm or death,” the IIO said in an email to Global News.

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The report said road conditions were good at the time, that traffic was light, though it was dark and that section of Harvey is heavily shadowed by the foliage of large trees.

A witness driving behind the officer said they were travelling at about 60 to 65 km/h when he saw the officer’s vehicle suddenly swerve to the left, halfway out of its lane.

“At the same time, he said, he saw something ‘fly off; the right side of the (officer’s) vehicle, and (the officer) then immediately pulled over to the curb and stopped,” said the report.

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The witness said he had to also swerve, to avoid the officer’s stopped car. As he did so, the witness said he saw a body on the roadway, in the middle of the curb lane.

The witness told IIO he stopped his vehicle, and that he and the officer went to check on the person lying in the road. The witness said he heard the officer say “he came out of nowhere.”

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The witness said they used his cellphone to call 911 because the officer’s cellphone was not working. The witness also said he saw a bicycle lying on the grass boulevard, and described the victim as wearing a black hoodie.

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Emergency personnel quickly arrived, with another witness stating the victim regained consciousness while being transported to hospital. That witness said the victim told them he had used heroin earlier that night.

That witness also said she had “strongly believed” she had seen the victim earlier, sometime after midnight, riding his bicycle against the traffic lights and weaving in and out of traffic in a very dangerous manner at a busy intersection. She recalled that a car had to slam on its brakes to avoid hitting him.

The IIO said the victim was not wearing a helmet, that he was dressed in a black hoodie and grey pants, that his bike had no lights and that he acknowledged having used heroin that night.

The report said the victim could not recall the accident.

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The IIO said accident reconstruction showed that the officer braked and swerved before hitting the victim, and that the impact was approximately at a 45-degree angle. The victim was thrown approximately 15 to 20 feet by the collision.

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The IIO also said the bike was examined, and that damage “confirmed the direction of the bicycle is well described as cutting directly across the road in front of the (officer’s) vehicle.”

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The officer’s vehicle was inspected, and that it was found to be in good, working order and that there was no cellphone activity at the time of the incident.

“The evidence collected in this case does not provide grounds to consider any charges against the officer,” the report concluded.

“Rather, the evidence points to a careless act on the part of the (victim), perhaps contributed to by his use of heroin, in cycling out from a dark, shadowed area under the trees beside a six-lane highway, wearing dark clothing and without lights.”