Kelowna RCMP surveilled prolific offender as soon as he was released from custody in September 2019

Cops tail man immediately

It appears the Kelowna RCMP did not trust a prolific offender to abide by his conditions after he was released from custody last year. And, allegedly, the police were correct in their assumptions.

John Aronson was released from custody on Sept. 23, 2019, after pleading guilty to six charges stemming from a high-profile takedown in the Orchard Park mall parking lot the previous January. Aronson was facing 22 separate charges from that incident, where he tried to steal a car to get away from police before he was shot by an officer. Instead, he struck a plea deal with the Crown that saw him convicted of just six charges and he was sentenced to time served.

Following sentencing, Aronson left the Kelowna courthouse just after 1 p.m. on Sept. 23. During the third day of Aronson's latest trial on Thursday, an RCMP officer testified a surveillance team began following Aronson as soon as he left the courthouse that afternoon.

The officer, the surveillance team leader, said Aronson left the courthouse with a woman in a yellow Dodge sedan, which first drove to a nearby parkade, before stopping at the alleyway behind the Cornerstone shelter on Leon Avenue. Aronson was in the passenger seat at the time.

After a few more stops around town, the yellow car, ended up at a home on Rutland's Mallach Road. Police continued to keep an eye on the property until 5:45 p.m., when Aronson left the home driving a tan Buick, followed by the yellow car.

Aronson is prohibited from driving, and an officer noted one of the yellow Dodge's licence plates had been fitted to the Buick.

Police continued to tail Aronson around town. Just after 6 p.m., the team lead used his radio to direct an officer in a marked police car to pull Aronson over. At about 6:15 p.m., the Buick travelled west across the William R. Bennett bridge.

The officer attempted to make the stop on Highway 97, near the Westside Road off-ramp, but the team lead heard over his radio that the Buick failed to stop. Rather than pursue the Buick in the heavy rush-hour traffic, the officer pulled over on the Westside Road on-ramp and turned the vehicle's emergency lights off. Less than a minute later, the team lead heard on his radio there was a serious crash on the highway, about 800 metres west of Westside Road.

The Buick had jumped the median and crossed into the oncoming lanes, crashing into a white Dodge Ram 1500 head on, seriously damaging both vehicles. A silver sedan was also involved. While the driver of the truck avoided any serious physical injuries, Aronson was trapped inside the Buick. The team lead testified he heard Aronson “moaning” inside the car, and firefighters were needed to cut him out of the wreck of a car.

Aronson fractured his skull in the crash and broke his arm, shoulder, femur, pelvis, knee and ankle, and the highway was closed for several hours.

The driver of the white truck testified earlier in the week that the psychological trauma of the crash remains a challenge in his life, and as a result, he has only just returned to work more than a year later.

The Independent Investigation Office investigated the RCMP officer's involvement in the crash and concluded the officer did not pursue the Buick as directed, acting appropriately.

Aronson, who's remained in custody since the crash, now faces five charges, including flight from police, driving while prohibited, dangerous operation of a vehicle and failing to comply with a probation order.

He is no stranger to the criminal justice system, and has a lengthy adult record dating back to 2006, when he was just 18 years old.

His current trial, which was scheduled to conclude Thursday, is expected to take an additional two days. The remainder of the trial has yet to be scheduled.

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