British Columbia

Family of Shuswap woman looking for answers as B.C.'s police watchdog investigates fatal crash

The family of Brittany Thompson is searching for answers as to what led up to a fatal crash that claimed the life of the 28-year-old mother of four. She had gone with a neighbour to pick up her cat from a vet in Salmon Arm, B.C.

28-year-old Brittany Thompson died in vehicle that crashed after RCMP twice tried to stop it near Sicamous

Brittany Thompson, a mother to 4 children, died in a crash near Sicamous, B.C., sometime after the RCMP tried to stop the vehicle she was in. (Submitted by Dania Israel)

Dania Israel remembers her older sister Brittany Thompson as bold and loud, often running around her back yard with her four children and Israel's son, arms flailing as she chased them.

"She was always loud and full of energy," Israel said.

"All of the kids loved her for it, though. It was entertaining to watch her with them."

Thompson's life was cut short at the age of 28 earlier this month.

She was the passenger in a vehicle that crashed on Highway 1 near Sicamous, in the B.C. Interior, sometime after police officers twice tried to stop it, according to the RCMP. 

The single-vehicle crash is being investigated by B.C.'s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), to determine if RCMP officers' actions contributed in any way.

The crash happened near the Bruhn Bridge at approximately 4 p.m. PT on May 20, according to the IIO. 

According to the RCMP, an officer in an unmarked car tried to pull over a vehicle on the highway that was allegedly passing several other vehicles.

Police twice tried to stop the vehicle

"The officer attempted to stop the vehicle but the driver allegedly failed to stop," the RCMP said in a written statement.

"The officer contacted Sicamous RCMP, who also attempted to stop the vehicle. However, a single-vehicle collision occurred resulting in the vehicle coming to rest nearby and injuries to the occupants."

Thompson died at the scene and the male driver was seriously injured in the crash and taken to hospital.

The RCMP has released no further details about the driver, his actions or the fatal crash, which the IIO is now investigating.

"The investigation remains active and on-going with no timeline as to when it will be completed and submitted to the B.C. Prosecution Service for consideration of appropriate charges," said Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet. 

"As you can imagine a major crime investigation such as this takes time to gather the necessary evidence to support the charge approval process."

Family searching for answers

Thompson's sudden death has left her family grief-stricken and searching for answers as to what happened the afternoon of the crash. 

According to Israel, Thompson caught a ride that day with a neighbour to Salmon Arm in order to pick up her cat from a local vet clinic. 

The crash happened after they had left the vet's office and were headed home, she said.

"They swerved off the road and my sister didn't make it," Israel said.

"There are a lot of theories going around on Facebook and other social media as to what caused it. I have heard the police were involved but I am not sure on the exact issue there."

Thompson was the mother to four children all between the ages of one and 10, Israel said. She lived in Malakwa with her children and her common-law husband Keith, to whom she was engaged to marry.

Brittany Thompson is being remembered as an energetic and loving mother to her 4 children. (Submitted by Dania Israel )

Israel said her sister had lived through some tough years when she fell in with the wrong crowd of people, but in recent years had pulled her life together.

"It finally seemed that she was at peace with everything that had happened previously," she said.

"She was starting to do better now. She was doing really good with her life and she was living for her kids and her family."

Israel said her entire family is reeling with grief as they try to make sense of Thompson's sudden death.

"At the moment we are all just hoping for answers," she said. "We are hoping we can find out what actually happened."


Brady Strachan

CBC Reporter

Brady Strachan is a CBC reporter based in Kelowna, B.C. Besides Kelowna, Strachan has covered stories for CBC News in Winnipeg, Brandon, Vancouver and internationally. Follow his tweets @BradyStrachan