Two men who went on a crash-filled ride in a stolen car Wednesday are in police custody, after trying unsuccessfully to carjack a motorist in Colwood.
The small red car in which the suspects were travelling was suspected initially of containing a mobile meth lab. The scenario led emergency responders to shut down portions of Sooke Road and around Veterans Memorial Parkway for up to three hours during afternoon rush hour, as a regional hazardous materials team worked to identify the unknown chemical substances found in the back of the car.
“Initial observation of the content of the suspect vehicle led police to contain the area as a precautionary measure,” said West Shore RCMP Const. Alex Bérubé in a statement. “The (chemicals) turned out to be harmless and posed no danger to the occupants or the public.”
At around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, West Shore RCMP received a report that a small red car had rear-ended another vehicle while approaching the four-lane portion of Sooke Road in Langford. The red car continued eastbound on Sooke Road, travelling at high speeds.
Reports continued to come in that the car, which police later determined had been stolen in the Comox Valley, had struck several other vehicles before coming to a stop in the 2600-block of Sooke Rd. at the southwest corner of Sooke Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway. According to police, no one was seriously injured during those collisions.
Two men jumped out of the suspect vehicle and unsuccessfully attempted to carjack a pickup truck. They fled to a wooded area near the intersection, but were arrested shortly after without further incident.
The two suspects, a 40-year-old man from Courtenay and a 28-year-old man with no fixed address, were taken to hospital for treatment and released into police custody. They appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance. Both men are scheduled to appear in Western Communities Court this afternoon (Dec. 1) to face numerous charges.
Mysterious chemical materials prompt HAZMAT call
A container filled with an unknown chemical substance was found in the back of the car and Colwood Fire Rescue, along with the Capital Regional District hazardous materials team, were called to assist with the investigation.
Traffic on Sooke Road, as well as other connecting streets including portions of Veterans Memorial Parkway, were closed for several hours during the evening rush hour. Traffic reopened shortly after 7:30 p.m.
“We isolated the area for public safety,” said Colwood Acting Fire Chief John Cassidy. “We tried to keep traffic going as long as possible.” But when the HAZMAT team arrived on site, Cassidy noted, they had to completely close the intersection to allow crews to move freely through the scene. “Something like this is a huge inconvenience for commuters … (But) we had to take steps for public safety and the safety of the first responders.”
The HAZMAT team conducted a number of tests on site before, Cassidy said, “it was determined the vehicle could be moved in a safe manner.” The car was impounded so police could continue their investigation.
While portions of Sooke Road were closed for more than three hours, Cassidy said all the crews involved in the investigation came together seamlessly. “Everything worked like clockwork,” he said.
Bérubé credited bystanders for helping officers locate the two suspects during the chaos of the moment. Anyone with information regarding this incident, or crimes possibly connected to the suspect vehicle, is asked to contact West Shore RCMP at 250-474-2264 or through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.