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Haunted by deadly crash

A cyclist who fell several hundred metres behind two of his friends on the day they were hit and killed by a drunk driver says the accident scarred him for life.

Stewart Blaser told a B.C. Supreme Court sentencing hearing for Samuel Alec that when he recalls that day, "I want to curl up in a ball and cry."

The court heard an agreed statement of facts Monday that said Alec, 42, was driving home from a friend's funeral shortly before noon on Sunday, May 21, 2015, when he crossed the centre line and crashed head on with cyclists Kelly Blunden and Ross Chafe, who died instantly in the collision near Pemberton.

Paul Pierre Jr., a passenger in the vehicle, and a man Alec considered to be a brother, was also killed in the collision.

Blaser told the court that the images from that day will haunt him forever.

"I recall walking towards the accident scene to check on my friends and saw a body part and bicycle debris everywhere. It was so horrific that I had to turn back. It made me sick."

Alec's blood alcohol level was measured after the collision at about three times the legal limit, and numerous witnesses described him as visibly drunk and smelling of alcohol, the agreed statement of facts said.

Alec has more than 40 convictions on his criminal record, 22 of which are driving offences or relate in some way to the charges to which he's pleaded guilty, Crown attorney Grace Oh said.

The Crown has recommended Alec be sentenced to 12 years in prison, and that he be barred from driving for up to 18 years. He has been held in custody since August 2015.

Alec slowly twirled an eagle feather in his hand as tears ran down his face while he listened from the prisoner's box to victim impact statements from the friends and family of the three men killed.





A $9,500 haircut

This is a story of one haircut, more than 20 years in the making, that raised almost $10,000 for charity.

Cole Keffer – or “Goldilocks” as he's known to his UBC rugby teammates – decided to get his first ever haircut to support Childhood Cancer Canada.

Through online and in-person fundraising, Keffer has raised more than $9,500. In front of teammates, friends and family, he cut off his curls for the kids.

“I feel pretty good. I almost feel lighter,” said Keffer after his haircut. “I didn’t think I’d feel this different, but I like it. It’s good."

You can show your support for the cause by making a donation at support.childhoodcancer.ca.



Vehicle rips through store

Two suspects broke into a privately owned liquor store and in less than a minute caused $150,000 worth of damage, and it wasn’t the first time.

Police are investigating a series of break and enters that are targeting privately owned liquor stores in Prince George, and released security survelliance footage in hopes of generating tips from the public.

On Monday, RCMP arrived on scene to a liquor store on Cowart Road around 1:30 a.m. to find significant damage to the front of the store caused by a vehicle.

According to police, the suspects and vehicle were gone before police arrived.

Surveillance images show two suspects in the store for less than a minute and show them taking several bottles of liquor valued at a few hundred dollars.

There were two other incidents on March 21 and 19, where two separate businesses had liquor stolen.

“Police are aware of the similarities in these incidents and are (open) to the possibility that all three were committed by the same persons,” said Cpl. Craig Douglass.

The suspects are believed to be male and were both wearing hoodies and masks. One of the hoodies is being described as black with an Adidas logo on the chest and the other is light, possibly yellow.

Douglass is asking anyone with information to contact police at 250-561-3300.

RCMP are also recommending any businesses with glass storefronts take necessary steps to protect their property.





Gravel spill on Hwy 99

Traffic on a major Lower Mainland commuter route is delayed this afternoon due to a gravel spill.

Highway 99 is reduced to a single lane east and west south of Ladner Trunk Road following a crash between a dump truck and a minivan.

No one was injured in the 2 p.m. crash, but the dump truck's load spilled across the highway. 

The incident is expected to cause major traffic delays.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



Series of shootings on hwys

RCMP say a man has been charged in connection with a series of shootings that took place over several hundred kilometres along British Columbia roads.

Police received numerous reports from truck drivers over an eight-hour period on Friday that someone from vehicle with Ontario licence plates was shooting at them while driving along Highway 97.

Police say reports were received in areas between Houston and 100 Mile House in the province's northern and central Interior.

On Saturday afternoon, Mounties say a man was shot near Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley and the victim escaped and found help from nearby Canadian Forces personnel.

The victim, a 39-year-old Chilliwack resident, was airlifted to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Police say they arrested a suspect less than two hours later and the unnamed man has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and additional charges are still being considered.

The man is expected to appear in court March 29, and police say they are still looking for other possible victims.



Birdbrain bashes mascot

Neighbourhood mascot Canuck the Crow is recovering after being struck on purpose at a weekend soccer game in East Vancouver.

Shawn Bergman, who runs the Canuck and I Facebook page, says the bird was hit by a linesman during a tournament at Adanac Park on Saturday.

"He apparently walked by and just cracked Canuck in the head with the flag, and Canuck was rendered unconscious for 10 to 15 minutes," Bergman said on Facebook.

The bird flew off and was missing for several hours after it regained consciousness. 

The Italian Canadian Sports Federation soccer tournament is investigating the incident.

"The person involved in this incident was not a member of ICSF and was not employed or directed by ICSF," it said. "ICSF does not condone violence of any kind against animals."

Canuck has more than 41,000 followers on social media.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



Family of 4 poisoned

The suspected cause of death to a family found inside a home is carbon monoxide.

Four bodies were found in the home located in a remote community called Saranagati Village, near Ashcroft, on Friday.

"Foul play has been ruled out and the focus of the investigation is on a suspected occurrence of carbon monoxide gas in the residence," said BC Coroners Service.

Relatives spoke to CTV News, saying the family died of carbon monoxide poisoning and that a faulty water heater is thought to be the cause.

A funeral service is being prepared for Harvey Volaine, Melissa Penner and two boys along with a GoFundMe campaign for the family. The two boys have been identified as Kaylex, 10, and Ay, 7.

The community they lived in has about 25 families and is a religious community located in Venables Valley, four hours from Vancouver.

“This tragedy has deeply impacted family and community members, both adults and children beyond what words can convey,” said a statement from the Venables Valley community following the incident.

“We send our most sincere condolences to family members of the deceased in this time of loss.”

The investigation has been taken over by the BC Coroners Service and toxicological examinations are underway with results expected later this week.

– with files from CTV Vancouver.



Sentencing for deadly drunk

Friends and family members of three men killed after an impaired driver hit a group of cyclists on a British Columbia highway say their lives have been forever changed by the loss of their loved ones.

A sentencing hearing has begun for Samuel Alec, who pleaded guilty to three counts of impaired driving causing death.

B.C. Supreme Court has heard in an agreed statement of facts that Alec was driving home from a friend's funeral in May 2015 when he crossed the centre line north of Whistler and collided head on with two road bikers.

Cyclists Ross Chafe and Kelly Blunden were killed, as was Paul Pierre Jr., a passenger in the vehicle.

Stewart Blaser, the lone surviving cyclist, says the horror of seeing his two friends killed has left him scarred for life.

The sentencing proceedings are scheduled to last three days.



City loses pipeline battle

A legal battle between the City of Burnaby and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion has ended with the British Columbia Court of Appeal ruling the National Energy Board can override municipal bylaws.

The fight began in 2014 when Trans Mountain was set to begin field studies on Burnaby Mountain, which required it to cut down trees, drill boreholes and operate heavy machinery — activities that violate the city's bylaws.

Before beginning the field work, the company obtained a ruling from the energy board that confirmed it was allowed to conduct surveys and examinations on land in Burnaby without the city's consent.

Burnaby didn't appeal the energy board's ruling, but when Trans Mountain began engineering studies on Burnaby Mountain in September 2014, the company was served with notices of bylaw violations.

The dispute ultimately wound up in B.C. Supreme Court, where Justice George Macintosh ruled in 2015 that the energy board has the constitutional power to direct or limit the enforcement of Burnaby's bylaws.

A three-member panel of appeal court judges agreed in a decision on Monday, with Justice Lauri Ann Fenlon writing that the energy board had jurisdiction to resolve the conflict between Burnaby's bylaws and the powers granted under the National Energy Board Act.

The city continues to oppose the $7.4-billion project, which would triple the capacity of the pipeline running from Alberta to Burnaby. In December, it filed an application with the Federal Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the federal government's approval of the expansion.

Mounties arrested more than 100 people during protests in 2014 on Burnaby Mountain, but a judge later tossed out civil contempt charges against many of the activists who were arrested for violating a court injunction ordering them to stay away.

The company said it had provided the wrong GPS co-ordinates when it asked for the original court order and the measurements were so inaccurate that the site was outside the area covered by the injunction.



Slide alert dredges up past

A tiny British Columbia community that lost four residents in a landslide almost five years ago has been put on alert for another possible slide.

An evacuation alert has been issued for residents of Johnsons Landing on Kootenay Lake in southeastern B.C. after reports that Gar Creek was running muddy and materials on a slope appear to be shifting.

A slide from Gar Creek in July 2012 released a torrent of mud and debris, killing a man, his two daughters, along with a female resident in a separate home.

It also destroyed or damaged several homes in the community.

The regional district says its emergency management team is assessing the situation and a helicopter is bringing representatives from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to the area.

The district says it has taken the precaution of issuing an evacuation alert to ensure residents' safety.

The district is alerting households in the area to the dangers and a reception centre is being organized.



Rockslide shuts down hwy

A rockslide in Fraser Canyon closed a section of Highway 1 on Sunday night.

No one was injured due to the slide, but some vehicles were damaged as a result.

The rockslide took place about one kilometre north of Yale.

“The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's geotechnical team has identified a number of rocks that are loose and may come down at any time,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation’s Instagram account.

DriveBC said an alternate route is available by Highway 5 and Highway 8.

Rock scaling is now required before Emil Anderson Maintenance crews and heavy equipment can clear the debris from the highway.

It is not clear when the highway will reopen.



Sledder lucky to be alive

A snowmobiler from northwestern British Columbia owes his life to the quick action of five rescuers after he was caught in an avalanche north of Terrace.

Terrace Search and Rescue spokesman Dave Jephson says two groups of snowmobilers were in the Rosswood area on Sunday when the sledder passed them.

He says they saw the man climbing up one of the chutes toward the top of a nearby mountain in the area about 40 kilometres north of Terrace.

Jephson says the snow fractured around the lone sledder and engulfed him.

The man wasn't wearing a locator beacon so the five snowmobilers used probes to try to pinpoint his location.

Jephson says they found him buried under a metre of snow but were able to dig him out in time. 



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