In general, traffic enforcement is a solitary effort for police outside of the province’s municipalities. I’ve often wondered just how close I have come to something bad happening in a traffic stop while I was a long way away from the nearest backup. Since today is Thanksgiving, I want to tell a story where something bad did almost happen and I’m very thankful for the “almost.”
One sunny afternoon I was patrolling northbound on highway 97 between Penticton and Summerland. A car with out of province licence plates approached me at a speed that was high enough to catch my attention and warrant dealing with the driver.
I turned on my emergency lights, made a U turn and pulled the offender over.
The sole occupant of the car was a woman who was crying. She told me a long story about being here to look after her mother during the nurses strike and was upset that she was the only source of care currently available.
I told her that we were in somewhat the same situation as my grandmother relied on the same care and my wife was helping her in the meantime.
As the conversation progressed, the lady became calm again and I finally sent her on her way with a warning in hand.
Unless there is a ticket dispute or the driver is stopped again for another violation, this is usually where most traffic stops end for an officer.
A couple of weeks later, I found an envelope in my drawer at work. Inside was a nice thank you card and a small gift. The card referred to my relationship with my grandmother but contained no other information. I did not connect it to the speeding incident.
The envelope did have a name and return address on it that turned out to belong to a care facility in Summerland. I telephoned, explained about receiving the card and asked if it would be possible to come and thank the woman for sending it to me.
The person on the other end said that I could come anytime, but this woman suffered from dementia and would not know what I was talking about.
Clearly, she did not send the card and I asked if she had family locally. Yes, there was a daughter who lived in Summerland.
I contacted the daughter and explained my quest. Oh, she said, you’re the one that stopped my sister! She had been feeling suicidal over the situation with her mother and when I stopped her, she was just speeding up to drive out into the lake. The conversation had changed her mind and she had driven home instead.
The card was from her. Wow…
Every now and again this memory comes back and I marvel at how sometimes things work out for the best instead of for the worst.
Happy thanksgiving to you all.