British Columbia

Driver involved in alleged hit-and-run at residential school march has come forward to police, RCMP say

The driver of a truck involved in an alleged hit-and-run at a march honouring residential school survivors in Mission, B.C., has come forward to police, according to the RCMP.

Police seized truck and interviewed 77-year-old driver, but no arrests made

Marchers are seen on a side road. Some of them are wearing high visibility vests. All of them have their back to the camera. A child is visible holding a woman's hand.
Dozens of marchers were at an annual march to honour survivors of the former St. Mary's Indian Residential School in Mission, B.C., on Saturday. (Robert Jago)

The driver of a truck involved in an alleged hit-and-run at a march honouring residential school survivors in Mission, B.C., has come forward to police, according to the RCMP.

A statement Monday said the man, 77, came forward after seeing coverage of the incident online. Police seized the man's truck and interviewed him, but said he has not been arrested or charged.

"We still need a few more details, and are asking for more information from the public," Const. Harrison Mohr wrote in the statement. 

"We did not actually receive any 911 calls about the truck driving through the march. However, we believe that there are more witnesses — including more people with cellphone video and dashcam footage who have not yet come forward."

Police are asking anyone with more information to contact Mission RCMP at 604-826-7161.

The incident happened around 12:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, near the site of the former St. Mary's Indian Residential School on Lougheed Highway.

A crowd participating in the march was walking along the eastbound lane of the highway after starting from Fraser River Heritage Park. Dozens of people, including Indigenous elders and children, were in attendance.

Christopher Robertson, who was at the front of the march and singing, said a driver behind the march started to yell at the group as they approached the gate of St. Mary's.

A man in an orange vest is seen looking at a blue pickup truck in the distance on a highway.
The driver of a blue pickup truck hit marchers at an annual walk to commemorate survivors of the former St. Mary's Indian Residential School on Saturday. Police are looking to speak with the driver of a truck that was behind the pickup. (Robert Jago)

Shortly after, Robertson said he pointed at the driver, who was in a blue truck, and asked him to pull over. But instead, he said, the driver accelerated and drove straight at the marchers.

Robertson said five people were hit, including a traffic controller who went over the hood and suffered a concussion.

Police said Monday four people were hit, two of whom were taken to hospital

Mohr said RCMP are "specifically looking to speak with the driver of a single-unit dump truck or semi truck, possibly blue in colour, that was behind the blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup as it passed the march." 

"Police believe that driver may have some key information for this investigation," he said.

During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Mohr told reporters that police are working to gather as much evidence as possible so they can recommend charges.

He anticipates charge recommendations in the "coming weeks."

"We hope that by doing so, people in our community will feel safe again and the driver will be held accountable for his actions," Mohr said.

Mohr said the incident did not appear to be targeted — based on interviews with the driver and what information police have collected, he said "there's no indication" that "any bias or racism" played a role in the incident, and once again encouraged witnesses to come forward with more information.

Police said the driver was "impatient" and trying to get around the group "despite the safety risk."

But witnesses don't buy it.

"[The driver] was shouting stuff out. He was being racist, using some racial slurs," said Garrett Dan, who organized the march. "We have a whole bunch of witnesses to what happened to my brothers."

With files from Akshay Kulkarni, Joel Ballard and Yasmin Gandham

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