The Keremeos fire chief is applauding the RCMP for ticketing a driver who was caught using his cell phone to take a picture of a car crash Wednesday afternoon.
The crash happened at the corner of Coulthard Avenue and Highway 3, near Cawston, around 2:20 p.m.
RCMP say the crash was caused when one of the drivers failed to yield for oncoming traffic when entering the highway. The driver was ticketed.
One of the drivers was extricated and both were transferred to hospital by ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.
As firefighters worked to extricate one of the injured, a person driving through stretched his arm out the driver’s side window to take a photo of the crash.
Cpl. Brian Evans of the Keremeos RCMP detachment took quick action signalling for the man to pull over. The 48-year-old man was issued a $368 ticket for using an electronic device while operating a motorized vehicle.
“I am happy that there was some action taken on that,” said Jordy Bosscha, chief of the Keremeos Volunteer Fire Department. “In this particular incident we didn’t have enough people to have anyone designated to traffic control. We tried to park our trucks to secure the scene but we can only do so much. We have members working to get people out of vehicles and to help people on scene, and it’s scary thinking that there are people taking pictures of this while they are driving. They’re putting us in danger and it’s already dangerous what we’re doing.”
Earlier this summer, Bosscha blasted those that whip out cell phones to take pictures of car crashes and fires, after a fatal accident happened on Highway 3 near the iconic Red Bridge. In that case a man was on the hood of a vehicle taking video of firefighters extricating a driver of a truck who later died in hospital.
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“I don’t know what it is that fascinates people about these kinds of things but, these people all have families and friends and they don’t need to see video and pictures of them in pain and we (emergency personnel) don’t need this while we’re working on them to save them,” he said after that incident.
Cpl. Evans said this was the first time he’d ticketed someone for that kind of blatant use of an electronic device, but that he’d issued many tickets for that offense over his career.
“Usually people are more discreet,” he said. “I haven’t ever had someone drive by me with his arms out the window taking a picture when he should be focused on driving.”
Evans said the driver was shocked to learn he was receiving a ticket.
“His impression was that he was not using his cell phone. He was taking a photo. The legislation prohibits all electronic devices, which includes cameras, which in this case was a cell phone,” Evans said.
The man received a $368 ticket and four points for taking the photo. Evans said the cost, “paled in comparison” to the real consequences of someone possibly getting injured or killed because of his careless actions.
“The law is very clear on this. There is no wiggle room. You aren’t even supposed to handle your phone to plug it in to a charger while the vehicle is moving. The legislation is very well-written and been defended many times in court. There is no justification for people to be using electronic devices while driving.”