Despite reportedly telling law enforcement he would turn himself in, the man wanted in connection with a fatal crash near Ladysmith is still on the loose.
On Saturday, a Ford F-150 pickup truck was travelling southbound on Trans-Canada Highway, near Oyster Sto-Lo Road, when it went over a concrete barrier dividing the highway and collided with a northbound SUV, killing 35-year-old Katie Blogg, a mother of two from Ladysmith.
A GoFundMe has been established to support Blogg’s two children and her husband and has raised more than $80,000 since it was launched late Monday.
Meanwhile, the driver of the Ford F-150 – a man in his 30s who splits time between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island and is known law enforcement in both areas – fled the scene, stealing a nearby vehicle that was eventually found in Chemainus, according to the BC RCMP.
Yesterday, BC RCMP told CHEK the suspect had spoken to an investigator with the South Vancouver Island Traffic Service, informing them that he planned on turning himself in later on in the day.
However, that hasn’t happened and the suspect remains on the lam, said Cpl. Mike Halskov of the BC RCMP.
“We are not sitting idly by waiting for this individual to turn himself in,” Halskov told CHEK on Tuesday afternoon.
“Our investigators are using all legal means necessary to try to locate this individual,” he added.
Halskov said the suspect was last known to be on Vancouver Island, but wouldn’t say whether investigators believe the man remains on the Island.
“Whether or not he still remains there is unknown at this time,” he said.
Asked whether authorities are reaching out to BC Ferries or airlines about whether the suspect has boarded a vessel or plane, Halskov said the RCMP are not ruling “any investigative avenue” out.
“The methods that the investigators are using are really up to them and who they try to solicit to get information to locate this individual is up to them,” he said.
Asked whether there has been additional communication between investigators and the suspect since telling them he was planning on turning himself in, Halskov said he wasn’t sure. He said investigators believed he would turn himself because it has happened many times before.
“It’s been successfully done in the past many times,” Halskov said. “Not all cases are this publicized, but there are many times where individuals turn themselves in for significant crimes they may have committed.”
Despite being a highly publicized case, RCMP has disclosed very little information about the suspect, other than that he is a man in his 30s, to the public. In addition to preserving witness statements, Halskov said there is another reason for the lack of information.
“We are restricted in some ways because if we go and ask for a warrant for example, which means we would have to take the matter before crown counsel and they would have to be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to lay a charge,” explained Halskov.
It’s at that point that police could release more details about the suspect to the public. However, it comes with a catch.
“That initiates a process called disclosure and because of the R. vs Jordan ruling a few years ago, it puts the investigators under an extreme time crunch to get this investigation completed and investigations of this nature routinely take a long time to complete,” said Halskov.
In what is known as the Jordan ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada established new time limits in criminal trials in 2016. The new limits mean prosecutors now have 18 months from the time an accused is charged to bring a criminal case against them to trial in provincial court, and 30 months for cases in other courts.
Halskov said giving out more information at this time, could actually hinder the entire process.
“I know that is frustrating to the public to hear that but it is the process we have to follow,” he said.
The suspect, said Halskov, isn’t necessarily a danger to the public as investigators don’t believe he is armed or at risk of randomly attacking people.
“He’s somebody who committed a very serious driving offence and so the risk to the public would be relatively low, I would say,” he said. “Obviously, we don’t want him to get behind a wheel because that risk would increase.”
Although the crash caused significant damage to both vehicles and a fatality and police believe it is likely the suspect could have been injured, Halskov said investigators don’t believe the man is dead.
“We have no evidence to suggest that is the case,” he said.
There has, however, been pressure from the public to locate the individual, particularly given the fact that a mother of two was killed, said Halskov, who stressed that police are working around the clock to find him.
“I would like to urge the individual to consult with his lawyer and turn himself into the police at the soonest opportunity,” he said. “In the meantime, he should know investigators are using all means necessary to try and locate him and take him into custody.”
To view and donate to the GoFundMe fundraiser for the Blogg family, click here.