ICBC suggests cyclist at fault for colliding with allegedly impaired driver

British Columbia's public auto insurer says a cyclist's own carelessness led him to be run down and killed by an alleged impaired driver on a highway near Whistler.

Insurer withdraws earlier claim cyclist was also impaired, now alleges he was careless

Whistler cyclists Kelly Blunden, left, and Ross Chafe, right, were struck and killed north of Pemberton in May, 2015. (Facebook)

British Columbia's public auto insurer says a cyclist's own carelessness led him to be run down and killed by an alleged impaired driver on a highway near Whistler.

The Insurance Corp. of B.C. responded to a lawsuit filed against it earlier this year by initially arguing that Ross Chafe may have been cycling under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the May 31 collision.

A week later, the Crown corporation amended its original submission, removing the suggestion that Chafe could have been riding while "impaired by alcohol, drugs, fatigue, illness or any combination thereof."

The remaining 11 claims were not changed, including that Chafe's brakes were possibly faulty and that he might not have been riding legally or staying as close as possible to the road's shoulder.

"He was operating the said cycle without proper care and attention or without reasonable consideration for others using the highway," read the response to civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court on earlier this month.

"He failed to take reasonable or proper or any precaution to avoid the accident. ... He failed to give any or adequate warning to (the driver of the vehicle) when the accident was, or should have appeared, imminent."

ICBC issued a statement on Wednesday saying that it wasn't accusing Chafe of anything, but rather wanted to flag "possible issues" that should be explored.

"Our intentions are in no way to deny a fair settlement to any deserving party," wrote spokesman Adam Grossman in an email. "This is very much part of the standard legal process.

"Defence must lay out any potential scenario which may have occurred so it can be considered."

Chafe was out for a weekend ride with two others along Highway 99 about 50 kilometres north of Whistler when his group was hit by a vehicle alleged to have been driven by Samuel Alec.

On Sept. 17, Chafe's wife, Lizanne Bussieres, launched legal action against Alec and the vehicle's owner, Carmen Ned, for negligence. A month later, ICBC applied to be included as a third party in the case.

Bussieres alleged Ned was aware that Alec was impaired and still allowed him to use the vehicle, which she argued wasn't properly maintained.

Court documents indicate she filed the lawsuit on behalf of herself and her three children, aged 11, 15 and 17.

Bussieres wants compensation for the loss of guidance, support, household assistance and inheritance, as well as special damages for funeral and memorial service costs.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and neither Ned nor Alec have filed statements of defence.

The collision also killed Chafe's fellow cyclist Kelly Blunden and Paul Pierre Jr., who was a passenger in the vehicle.

In August, RCMP charged Alec with several offences, including impaired driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death and failure to remain at the scene of an accident.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story cited ICBC's original legal position that claimed cyclist Ross Chafe was impaired by alcohol or drugs. However, the corporation has since amended its civil legal response to remove that claim.
    Oct 29, 2015 1:18 PM PT

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