Drunk driver allegedly careens through playground area in West Van, say police

Drunk drives through park

West Vancouver police are sounding the alarm on drunk driving after nabbing one man who drove his car through a playground area and a motorcyclist who was allegedly so impaired, he fell off his bike. Both incidents happened in the past week in West Vancouver.

The first close call happened Sept. 19, around 3:30 p.m., when West Vancouver police got a call saying a car had driven through a children’s playground area at Ambleside Park.

The driver of a 2023 Toyota Corolla apparently left the roadway and drove over a curb then across a children’s playground near the Boat Shed concession. “He drove through the playground with people jumping out of the way,” said Sgt. Mark McLean of the West Vancouver police. “It’s a really busy area.”

The driver even ended up driving on the Seawalk for a brief stretch, said McLean, before apparently realizing he wasn’t on the road anymore and turning back across the grass. When the driver rejoined the roadway, he immediately hit another car, “then without stopping, drove out of the park,” said McLean.

After hearing from multiple witnesses, officers searched the area and found the car on the lawn of a nearby apartment building in the 1200 block of Clyde Avenue.

The driver – a 45-year-old man from Quebec who was “still in care and control of the vehicle,” according to McLean – was handed an immediate 90-day roadside driving prohibition. Criminal charges are also being recommended.

The second scary near miss happened the next day, on Sept. 20, when a driver on Highway 99 just south of Lions Bay saw a motorcycle rider fall off his bike on the highway. When the witness stopped to offer help, they saw signs the motorcycle rider was intoxicated. But instead of stopping, the motorcycle rider just hopped back on the bike and rode away.

Witnesses tailed the motorcycle all the way to the Upper Levels Highway. When the motorcycle finally came to a stop at the traffic light on Taylor Way, “he fell over because he apparently didn’t have the ability to balance,” said McLean.

That’s when the witness ran over and removed the keys from the motorcycle so the rider couldn’t get back on.

“To ride a motorcycle on that particular stretch of highway is dangerous as it is,” said McLean. “To ride it, as we are alleging, intoxicated, is really, really dangerous.”

A 63-year-old North Vancouver man was handed an immediate roadside driving ban. Criminal charges are also being recommended in that case as well.

The latest incidents come as the West Vancouver Police Department is being honoured by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for taking the most impaired drivers per capita off the road in the Metro Vancouver region in 2022.

WVPD members have removed 321 drunk drivers from the road – including both immediate roadside prohibitions and those who have been criminally charged – in 2023 so far, said McLean.

Drivers coming in from the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal, from Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky region and coming back from the entertainment district downtown across the Lions Gate Bridge all come through West Vancouver, said McLean, making it a geographic hub.

And while some egregious cases of drunk driving are called in by the public, “We do a lot of proactive work at the patrol level,” he said, “Including roadblocks on a near nightly basis. It’s a high priority for us.”

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