Hit-and-run kicks off police chase

A man who fled the scene after his stolen minivan smashed into a poor woman’s SUV would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for those pesky cops.

It all started just after noon on Jan. 4 at the busy Kelowna intersection of Highway 97 and Dilworth Drive. A general duty police officer came across a smashed-up blue Honda Pilot that was partially blocking westbound traffic. The accident appeared to have just occurred. The officer assessed the lone occupant of the SUV, a 38-year-old woman, who suffered non-life threatening injuries. She told the officer that another vehicle involved in the crash fled the scene towards Springfield Road.

The woman was medically assessed by BC Ambulance Service paramedics and released at the scene.

Meanwhile, officers flooded the area looking for a damaged grey Mazda MPV minivan. They even fired up their helicopter. And suspicious vehicle reports “poured in to police from the public and motorists provided police with sightings of the suspect vehicle,” according to Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.

Witnesses reported that the damaged minivan was smoking from under the hood.

Although police helicopters can make for exciting chases, “In the end, it was ultimately another general duty officer who spotted the vehicle in the vicinity of the east end of Lawrence Avenue.”

The suspect turned out to be a 45-year-old Kelowna man who’s well known to the RCMP. He was arrested and held in custody. Police discovered that the minivan he was using was stolen from Kelowna on Jan. 3 as it was left unattended while warming up.

Anybody who saw the commotion is being asked to speak with police. Cst. Carl Stene’s the investigating officer, call him at 250-762-3300.

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