A former school teacher and counsellor is recovering in hospital after being struck by a vehicle while protesting old-growth logging in front of the Victoria courthouse on Wednesday evening.
Warren Kimmit, 67, said he was hit by a white sedan on Blanshard Street after the protest spilled from the sidewalk into a northbound traffic lane.
Kimmit said he stepped in front of an Indigenous elder to shield her from the impact of the vehicle, rolled on the car’s hood and used his legs to push fellow protester Rose Henry out of harm’s way.
Kimmit chose not to be taken to hospital at the time. However, he later started experiencing pain, sought medical attention and was hospitalized.
In an interview in hospital Thursday, Kimmit said he is suffering from the effects of a suspected concussion and whiplash and has some internal bleeding.
Police said there was no visible damage to the vehicle involved and no arrests were made.
“At this time, investigators have no indication that the driver of the vehicle intentionally struck the person who moved into the roadway,” Victoria police said in a statement. “Additionally, investigators are not currently aware of conflict between the parties before the collision.”
Community Services Division officers, including members of VicPD’s traffic section, were monitoring the protest in the 800-block of Blanshard Street when the incident occurred.
They said a group of people carrying placards moved from the sidewalk into the northbound lane of Blanshard Street, a section of road at the top of a hill at a low-visibility corner.
“At that time, one of the protesters made contact with a vehicle that was travelling northbound at low speed,” police said.
Zach Smith, who witnessed the incident, said the car slowed down as it approached the group. He thought the driver was going to say something to Kimmit or to the Indigenous elder. “Then the car jerked to the right and accelerated,” said Smith. “Kimmit had been standing behind [her] but managed to get in front in order to protect her.”
He still isn’t sure if it was an intentional act or accidental, Kimmit said. “All I saw were his eyes. He looked at [the Indigenous elder] and accelerated. The angle was right where I could wedge myself between her and the car,” he said.
Kimmit said he’s been actively protesting and observing in the Fairy Creek area near Port Renfrew, where RCMP have made more than 400 arrests of protesters for violating a court injunction.
He said he was arrested July 14 for obstruction while trying to stop RCMP officers from using a backhoe to remove a young protester who had locked their hands into the ground via the so-called “sleeping dragon” method using cement and metal.