Staff Sgt. Scott Warnica laughs with his whole body.
The wiry Mountie has the storyteller's gift. Each tale erupts from
somewhere deep in his DNA. He can't hold them in.
His hands flail, he leans forward and then back, his body punctuating
every point, his eyes daring you to look away. Trouble is you want to look away
from some of his stories. Things he was forced to see. He only shares those
stories with the people who know. If you have to ask what that means, be
grateful. It means you are not one of those people.
Warnica has been a Mountie for 21 years. On his worst week he took notes,
talked to witnesses and tried to stay busy as he watched the bodies pulled from
mangled wrecks on three different days. Two of the dead drivers were dead drunk
in the final seconds of their lives. The third didn't bother clicking his seat
belt before pressing the gas pedal just a little too hard.
One of the drunks didn't have her seat belt on either. He still sees her on
the ground. She was tossed from her truck. The cab landed upside down on her
head. The rest of her body was fine but she was gone. Hers is a story that is
never far from his mind, although he doesn't share it often.
Warnica figures he's handled 400 drunk driving calls. Many ended in death.
He'll tell you there is never a moment day or night when there is not a drunk,
driving somewhere in Metro Halifax. Listen to a police radio during the morning
rush hour or late at night and you'll be hard pressed to argue the point.
Last night he raced down Highway 101 hunting a silver Volkswagen Passat.
Someone spotted it crawling at 10 kilometers per hour in the passing lane.
Warnica found it wedged up against a guard rail, its rear stuck out in the
passing lane waiting to be hit.
He looked down at a 46-year-old woman slumped behind the wheel. He knew the
warm air wafting from her open window would trip a roadside breathalyzer. There
was no roadside test though. She couldn't get out to take it. Mounties carried
her to a squad car and later into the detachment. They pulled 21 empty liquor
bottles from the car. They weren't in a blue bag.
Warnica has seen three - maybe four - people that drunk in his career.
Someday this woman will be fodder for his storytelling. For now she only rates a
shake of his head. That, and a tick on his club 253 score card.
A few Mounties here started Club 253 a year ago. It's a way to track who
catches the most impaired drivers. There is no incentive to join or reward
beyond car to car bragging rights. It's named for the criminal code section for
impaired driving. It takes ten 253 charges just to get into the club and
The woman in the Volkswagen was number 12 for Warnica this year. Nothing
compared to the 45 charges credited to the officer leading the club as the year
fades. Still, not bad for a shift supervisor who spends as much time driving a
desk as he does a patrol car.
He's cheering on the Watch One officers he supervises. Its members hold
four of the top nine spots in club 253. You can keep track of their progress.
Like any born story teller Warnica has taken to twitter to share his tales.
Follow along at @RCMPwatch1. Be forewarned, some of what you read will be