Catch & Release; How Broken is Our System?

Well I have one story that goes back over 10 years. While driving with my children through the pass on Hwy 1 west of Banff, I came across two men in a car that had slid off the road into the ditch. Back then we weren’t so paranoid and I stopped to see if I could assist them and make sure there were no injuries.

They asked me to steer as they tried to push the car out of the ditch. That wasn’t working, but as I was in the car I noticed one of those over-sized tall cans of beer sitting beside the driver seat. I got out of the car and told them I’d call them a tow truck (I had no cell phone back then). They got rather anxious and insisted I give them a ride but I had my children in the car and that was not going to happen.


As they tried to convince me I noticed one seemed very agitated and it became obvious by his breath he was the one consuming the beer.
I got back in my car and took off, stopping at the Lodge and called in a report to the RCMP. I had all they needed, plate #, description of the car, description of the men, time date, approximate location.

On a follow up call from the RCMP after I returned home I learned just how lucky I really was.

These two men had approached a man at a gas station in Calgary asking for a ride. When he refused, they dragged him out of the car, along with his wheelchair. They left the handicapped man laying on the ground and sped off in his car.

But that is only the beginning of the saga.

One man was an adult, the other a youth. The investigation targeted the adult, mainly.

About 7 years went by and I never heard anything more about it. Then one day I get a call from the Lake Louise RCMP. They had finally arrested this man and I was going to have to come to Calgary to testify, 1,000 km from home. The victim had since moved to Vancouver Island and he and a caregiver would also be making the long trip to Calgary.

The witness liaison I dealt with ensured I got every bit of expenses covered that the system allowed, which I am grateful for but I would soon find out it was not enough.

I arrived at court on time as did the victim, but the crown attorney informed us we were waiting for the accused to arrive.

Yep, you got it. They had arrested him in Lake Louise and he was let go. He did not show up for his original court date and 7 years later they caught him and let him go with an order to appear at this Calgary court date. But his lawyer assured us that he promised to be there and he was confident he would show up because he was also facing charges from a different incident for possession of cocaine and dealing. “He has a lot to lose if he doesn’t show up here“, he told us.

So we waited until the day’s court sessions were done and were told by the crown attorney we were free to go home. Another warrant was issued for the man’s arrest.

On my way home alone (they could not pay the cost of anyone coming with me), in February in -30 weather, I was about to Oyen, AB when I had car trouble. I felt a shudder and watched as my driver’s front wheel flew past my window as it headed out into a field. (you’d be amazed how far they can go out into the field at 100 km/hr). My car veered into oncoming traffic but i was able to correct it and shoot for the shoulder. Thank god for Chrysler’s select shift that allowed me to get stopped quickly without touching the brakes.

I was able to find a fantastic tow truck operator in Oyen to take me and my car to Kindersly to the SGI (insurance) compound. He dropped me at a hotel where I spent 2 days fighting with SGI over how to get home. ‘

My car was a write off, the front end damage from slamming to the ground at 100 km was not worth repairing. My insurance covered the car but even after a long battle with SGI, I did not get enough to replace it with the same car. I really loved that car! My husband ended up having to drive 500 km to come and get me.

So, needless to say, when they called me again a year later to say they had him again and this time in custody, I told them if they could not arrange CCTV (closed circuit TV) I would not be testifying, they can come and arrest me if they want. This is something they should have done in the first place.

Literally days before it was time for court again, they called me to tell me I would not need to testify because the accused took a deal. On followup I found out that because he also had the drug charges, the carjacking was going to net him a punishment of probation, which would expire before he even served a short sentence for the drugs.

So although I started as only a witness, the system made me a victim. Needless to say I don’t stop for anyone unless I know them anymore.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The criminal in this case was NOT aboriginal, nor was he Caucasian. While I did not get full details, I was told he was not born in Canada and immigrated here.