Whitehorse Daily Star

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OFFICER DOWN - Two RCMP officers were injured when their vehicles collided on the Alaska Highway near the Kopper King Thursday afternoon.

RCMP accident under investigation

Two RCMP vehicles have been written off and one officer is in hospital after an accident on the Alaska Highway in Whitehorse Thursday afternoon.

By Whitehorse Star on June 6, 1998

At around 2 p.m., two police vehicles were driving north on the highway in sequence looking for a man charged with a parole violation, police say.

The fugitive was spotted by one of the officers. He was hitchhiking on the opposite side of the road between Two Mile Hill and the Kopper King, say police.

But Dean Simmons, of Pender Harbour, B.C., said today all he saw as he was travelling south on the highway were two vehicles flying past him in the other lane.

“They were following so bloody close, they could have been a freight train,” he said.

“If they hadn’t have been so close together, they’d probably have made it,” said Simmons.

The official version is that the driver of the lead police car, which was unmarked, stopped suddenly after seeing the fugitive and started to make a U-turn.

The driver of the marked police truck following behind didn’t notice the car in front had stopped, and hit it.

The car was thrown into the ditch, and the driver is still in Whitehorse General Hospital suffering from a broken collar bone.

Simmons said he never saw anyone hitchhiking. If he’d been travelling any faster, he added, he’d be in the hospital as well.

He said the unmarked car spun around twice before landing in the ditch.

While waiting to talk to investigators after the accident, Simmons said, he spoke with a man who was driving behind the officers just before the collision.

That man told him that moments before, he’d been forced onto the shoulder because the police vehicles were approaching him so quickly.

Until after the accident, he’d had no idea the unmarked car was a police vehicle because the emergency lights were never turned on, the man told Simmons.

The jaws of life had to be used to get one of the officers out of the car.

Police say the man they were searching for was taken into custody by a third officer.

Cpl. Brian Jarvis would not say what the man was on parole for, nor would he release the names of the officers involved.

The accident “will be investigated like any other traffic accident,” says Jarvis. “In this case, I would suggest it is investigated perhaps more stringently because it is our people involved, and basically everything will be covered.”

Traffic jams developed after the highway, from Centennial Street to Two Mile Hill, was closed for 2 1/2 hours while investigators combed the scene.

“We will be studying it, perhaps in somewhat more depth because we don’t want it to happen again involving our vehicles. It is something we take pretty seriously, and will be investigated to the limit,” said Jarvis.

By Star reporter Kathleen Goldhar

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