Three suspects arrested after stolen truck found on Coquihalla Wednesday

3 arrested after Coq closure

Police closed the Coquihalla Highway Wednesday while officers searched the area for alleged vehicle thieves who were believed to be armed.

In a press release issued Thursday morning, Sgt. Chris Manseau of the RCMP says police located a stolen black Dodge Ram pickup truck near the Coquihalla Summit at about 12:15 p.m.

While the press release doesn't provide details about the circumstances around the stolen vehicle, the Uniform Gang Enforcement Team and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of BC were involved in the investigation.

When officers attempted to pull over the stolen vehicle, the driver took off and drove down a side road off the Coquihalla, near the Juliet Bridge. The truck became stuck in the Coldwater River, and the three occupants ran from the scene.

Tik Tok user Kurtis Brown posted video Wednesday afternoon of the truck stuck in the river, with several officers around it. He has since removed the video.

Sgt. Manseau says witnesses reported that one of the suspects appeared to be carrying a firearm, which prompted a large RCMP response, including from the Emergency Response Team.

A woman suspect was located and arrested soon after fleeing from the truck, but two other men remained at large.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the highway was closed for several hours while we searched the area for these suspects,” said Sgt. Josh Roda of the Merritt RCMP.

“Without knowing their identities or their intentions, and reports indicating they were armed, we felt it was best to keep all members of the public from the scene.”

More than a dozen construction workers at a nearby TransMountain pipeline worksite were evacuated, and the entire Coquihalla Highway was closed to motorists.

Following several hours of searching, officers located the remaining two suspects at about 6 p.m. Sgt. Manseau says they were “arrested without incident,” and transported to the Merritt RCMP detachment.

Sgt. Manseau said he did not know if any firearms were found when the suspects were arrested. It's not clear if any charges have been laid at this time.

Police have determined the truck was stolen in Coquitlam, and the licence plate on the truck had been stolen in Langley.

“We are aware of the online speculation on the identities of these suspects. Although we are in the preliminary stages of this investigation, there is no indication that these suspects are related to any recent high-profile events in the Lower Mainland, or Merritt,” Sgt. Roda said.

Sgt. Manseau thanked a commercial truck driver who initially located and reported the stolen truck to the RCMP, along with the TransMountain employees who followed police directions and the public for dealing with the closed highway.

Police have asked any witnesses or people with dash-cam footage from the Juliet Bridge area between 11:20 a.m. and 2 p.m to call the Merritt RCMP at 250-378-4262.

More BC News