Driver rams two police vehicles on Salt Spring Island

In an intense scene that played out Saturday morning, Salt Spring RCMP stood with weapons drawn as the driver of a stolen truck repeatedly rammed police vehicles before speeding off and flipping into a ditch.

The driver was found inside the overturned vehicle, sitting upright on the ceiling, armed with an axe and trying to set the vehicle on fire with a lighter.

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“Nobody could have anticipated how bizarre and volatile this incident would have unfolded,” RCMP Cpl. Darren Lagan said Saturday. “It highlights the unpredictable nature of police work and the real risks our officers face.”

The chaotic scene unfolded just after midnight an Upper Ganges Road, when the driver attempted to avoid an impaired-driving checkpoint, nearly striking an officer on foot, police said.

A video posted to Facebook by Kyle Matheson shows officers yelling at the driver to get out of the truck.

The officers break the driver’s side window and open the door, but the man slams it shut. He then drives forward and backward, pushing the police vehicle in front of him several metres and reversing onto the hood of the cruiser behind him. The two police vehicles were heavily damaged.

After several hits, the driver manoeuvres the truck out of the checkpoint area and drives away.

RCMP said a police vehicle followed the vehicle northbound on Upper Ganges Road, locating it a short distance away, upside-down in the ditch.

“An on-scene firefighter familiar with the suspect was successful in persuading him to surrender the axe, but the man continued to physically resist attempts by first responders to assist him,” RCMP said in a statement.

After several hours, the suspect was forced from the vehicle and apprehended under the Mental Health Act, Lagan said.

His physical injuries are unknown, but are believed to be minor. He was taken to hospital for medical assessment.

A preliminary investigation has determined that the truck had been stolen.

An officer seated in one of the police cars suffered neck and back injuries. He has been treated and released from medical care, and is expected to be off duty for some time.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has been notified and is monitoring the case, pending a determination of the extent of the man’s injuries. The office investigates police-involved deaths or serious injuries.

Police are asking anyone who witnessed this incident, or captured video of it, to contact Salt Spring Island RCMP at 250-537-5555.

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

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