RCMP pursuit policy must change, says Sask. man who called 911 about stolen truck that killed 3

When Curtis Byford watched police chase a stolen vehicle off his property near Lloydminster, Sask., early Friday morning, he thought "perfect, they got them." The next day he found out the truck was involved in a crash that killed three women from Edmonton.

Curtis Byford frustrated that police chase was called off for safety reasons

Curtis Byford recalls how stolen truck was on his property before fatal crash

5 years ago
Duration 5:37
Curtis Byford recalls how stolen truck was on his property before fatal crash

Curtis Byford says it's not uncommon for vehicles to pull into his property at the end of a dead-end road near Lloydminster, Sask.

But this time there were three of them. He didn't know it at the time, but one of the vehicles would soon be involved in the deaths of three people.

"They started shutting off the vehicles and getting out so I called 911, went and did the big lockdown," he said.

Byford said it was about 1 a.m. CST when the vehicles pulled into his driveway early Friday morning.

While he was waiting for Maidstone RCMP to arrive — the drive from the station takes about 45 minutes — Byford heard one of the vehicles start up and drive away.

The officers had arrived at the property when he saw the headlights re-emerge from behind a crest about 200 metres from where they were standing in the driveway.

"[Police] were on them instantly … so when one of [stolen vehicles] came back I thought 'Perfect, they got them,'" said Byford.

"I found out three o'clock the next day that that vehicle, 35, 36 minutes later, killed three people."

Eva Fatu Tumbay (left), Jeanette Wright (centre) and Glorious Blamo (right) died in a car crash Friday. (Facebook)

Chase called off

Glorious Blamo, 35, Eva Fatu Tumbay, 37, and Jeanette Wright, 53, were killed when their minivan was struck by a suspected stolen truck before 3:10 a.m. A fourth woman, 32-year-old Janet Wright Gaye, was seriously injured and remains in hospital.

The three mothers were driving to Minnesota to visit family when the stolen truck hit their minivan in the eastbound lane of Highway 16, five kilometres from Lloydminster.

RCMP had called off the chase of the stolen vehicle earlier due to safety concerns.

The occupants of the truck fled before they arrived, but a 26-year-old man was found in the area, according to the RCMP.

Officers said Saturday that charges were pending but none had been laid as of Monday afternoon. 
Maidstone RCMP said Monday it could not provide further information about the crash while the investigation is ongoing. It said nobody had been charged as of Monday afternoon. (Matthew Garand/CBC News)

More information to come: police

Maidstone RCMP said it cannot provide any further information while the investigation is underway.

"We are committed to providing further information as it becomes available and that includes any charges that may be laid in relation to this file," the police service said in a news release Monday.

Byford said he is "beyond frustrated" by what he saw Friday night. He said the officers also appeared frustrated when they returned to his property after the chase was called off.

When he found out about the fatal crash, he started typing to share the story on social media.

Byford said he has since been contacted by more than five police officers who said they too are frustrated by the safety policy that led the chase to be called off.

"Yes, there is a chance somebody could die if they are chasing them but they also have lights and sirens on to say 'get out of the way,'" said Byford.

"If they're not there, if they're not chasing them, there's zero chance."

Maidstone-area resident Charles LeRoy says police told him they could not chase his stolen truck when they saw it drive past in the Battlefords area. (Matthew Garand/CBC News)

Maidstone residents question policy

Maidstone-area resident Charles LeRoy questioned the policy based on what happened when his own truck was stolen.

He reported it stolen from his driveway a few months ago.

"The cops in Battleford saw our truck going by but they couldn't chase them in town, is what we were told," said LeRoy.

Veronica Rodh also lives in Maidstone, which is about 55 kilometres southeast of Lloydminster.

She thinks restrictions should be loosened to allow police to chase stolen vehicles in situations like the incident on Friday.

"It's getting ridiculous, there is just one stolen vehicle after another around here anymore and I don't know what you do about it to stop it," she said.

With files from CBC's Jennifer Quesnel