Victim in Clarenville crime spree says his outcome could have been much worse
Steve Blackmore was hit head-on on Tuesday night during an alleged crime spree
One of several victims in Tuesday night's alleged crime spree through Clarenville says his crash could have been much worse, had he not been driving a full-size pickup truck.
Steve Blackmore was hit head-on by the driver of another truck on the Shoal Harbour Causeway in Clarenville at around 9 p.m. on Tuesday night. Police allege Kevin Roberts was the opposing driver, and say he was involved in a string of crimes around the Clarenville and Port Blandford area overnight.
Blackmore says the force of the other vehicle forced his truck back almost 40 feet, crumpled his front hood and pinned the driver's side door of the truck — but he was left with relatively minor injuries.
"The damage to my vehicle is extensive. Had it been a smaller vehicle? Oh boy," he said Friday morning.
"It peeled back the top of my hood, on my pickup, so it could have steamrolled a smaller car."
He says he has bruises and a laceration in his liver, which means he's spent the past few days resting — but the impact of the string of incidents is greater on other drivers who were victims that night.
'Coming straight towards me'
Blackmore says he had very little time to react on the road as he saw a grey, jacked-up truck head in his direction.
He says Roberts ran through a red light on a section of the causeway that's undergoing repairs, and has been reduced to one lane of traffic. Blackmore estimates the driver sped up to 70 or 80 km/h, and came directly his way.
"They would have had room to actually swerve right to avoid me, and get in the proper lane. But that's not what occurred," he said.
"The vehicle appeared to accelerate even more, and it was coming straight towards me, and I had time to basically brace myself, hold my steering wheel, say an expletive, and boom."
At that moment, everything was so fresh for her and her 17-year-old boy was in the car with her.- Steve Blackmore
Blackmore — who is currently off duty from the RCMP — says he was disoriented for a few moments, but remembers the sight and smell of his airbags deploying, and his limbs start to shake as the adrenaline from that collision wore off.
He says his experience as an RCMP officer has familiarized him with traumatic situations, so he's not expecting many long-term effects.
But he expects others, particularly the woman who was driving a vehicle that police allege Roberts carjacked, will have a tougher time.
"Coincidentally, everyone else who was involved in these collisions I met at the hospital," he said. "I was sitting on a gurney and someone passes me by, and she asks 'were you involved in this too?'"
"She expressed herself in terms of 'oh, I'm never going to get this out of my eyes … at that moment, everything was so fresh for her and her 17-year-old boy was in the car with her, who was also assaulted, of course that amplified her fears."
String of crimes
That carjacking was part of a string of crimes which RCMP allege Roberts committed that night, and into the next morning.
Blackmore says he didn't realize there was much more to the accident until a witness told him that the opposing driver ran away, and he heard that police were working to track him down.
RCMP have laid two charges against Roberts so far, but have said they expect to confirm more — including flight from police, theft of a motor vehicle and dangerous operation.
"The exact number of charges remains unknown at this point in time, but what we do speculate is that there will be multiple charges," said Cpl. Jolene Garland, a spokesperson for the RCMP in Newfoundland and Labrador, on Friday.
Garland said she's not exactly sure how many people were involved in the string of crimes, but said police didn't believe anyone had serious injuries.
Roberts allegedly led police through the two communities of Clarenville and Port Blandford, 30 kilometres apart. Garland says while they were tracking the suspect, they never engaged in a physical pursuit of Roberts, due to weather and safety factors.
They did try to stop him near the Clarenville airstrip, but Roberts did not stop.
"The driver failed to stop for the police and actually even turned off the headlights, and this was on a dark, rainy night," Garland said.
The officers, realizing the public safety risk involved, decided not to pursue the vehicle, she said.
Roberts was arrested the following morning, and has appeared in court in Clarenville. His 19-page court record includes convictions for assault with a weapon or imitation, theft, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
In 2016, he was convicted on multiple counts for leading police through a chase in Mount Pearl, and holding up a bar in the Goulds area of St. John's.