Sunday 18 August 2019

'We will never fully know what happened' - family of Irishman killed in Canadian collision after police officer cleared of wrongdoing

'Brendan was a kind young man to all and full of life'

Brendan Keogh died four months after being hit by a police vehicle
Brendan Keogh died four months after being hit by a police vehicle
Kathy Armstrong

Kathy Armstrong

THE family of an Irishman who died after being struck by an on-duty police officer have said they "will never fully know what happened" after the driver involved chose not to make a formal statement.

Brendan Keogh (29), who was originally from the village of Mullinalaghta in Co Longford, was walking along the busy intersection of Highway 99 and Garibaldi Way in Squamish town in Vancouver, British Columbia at around 10.30pm local time on March 13 last year when he was struck by an on-duty officer with the Lower Mainland Integrated Police Dog Services, who was driving an unmarked SUV.

Mr Keogh was cared for in Vancouver General Hospital, before being transferred to the Mater Hospital last summer. Sadly, he never regained consciousness and died in August.

The British Columbia police oversight agency has now said it will not be recommending charges against the officer.

Brendan Keogh
Brendan Keogh

Mr Keogh's family called the report into his death "meaningless" as they said they will never fully have the answers about what happened to their beloved son and brother.

Mr Keogh's devastated parents Marian and Kevin and sisters Niamh and Aine said in a statement released to "We have received the report from the Investigators in Canada in relation to the accident that led to the passing of our dear son Brendan.

"The Authorities there have decided that they will not recommend that anyone is referred for further investigation for prosecution arising from these tragic events.

"The Police Officer whose vehicle drove into our son on that dark and wet night in British Colombia has chosen not to make any statement to the authorities about the tragic events.

"That is her right. Because she has exercised that right, we will never fully know what happened as Brendan is no longer with us and therefore the two parties central to the incident have not made statements, Brendan because he could not and the Officer concerned because she chose not to.

"The report in so far as it attributed any blame to Brendan is meaningless to us as the two central parties have not been heard and in view of the decision not to refer for prosecution, there will now be no trial or hearing of the issues."

The Keogh family also paid tribute to Brendan and reflected on how his death has affected them.

"Brendan just turned 29 when he died. He was a wonderful brother to his two sisters who cherished him.

"He is a tremendous loss to his family who were all so close to one another. He was a kind young man to all and full of life," the family's statement said.

"He had many dreams and ambitions which he hoped to follow. He will be missed by all his family and his close network of friends.

"We as a family feel very proud of Brendan and everything he achieved in his short life."

They were speaking this morning after the British Columbia police oversight agency said it will not be recommending charges against the officer.

"The evidence collected does not provide grounds to consider any charges against any officer,” Ronald MacDonald, the chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office, said.

"I do not consider that an officer may have committed an offence under any enactment and therefore the matter will not be referred to Crown counsel for consideration of charges.”

His comments were reported in the Squamish Chief newspaper.

The report found that the officer was driving in the slow lane under the speed limit - and went through the intersection on a green light.

The officer hit the brakes before the collision, he said.

"There is nothing in the evidence collected that suggests [the officer] was driving in a manner that would appear to a reasonable person to be way dangerous or without proper care and attention," Mr MacDonald wrote. "To the contrary, all the evidence shows she was driving as a reasonable driver would."

Mr Keogh was sober, and Mr MacDonald suggested that the Irishman's vision may have been affected by the weather conditions.

"[He] made a tragic error when he crossed the highway, against the traffic signal, on a dark and rainy night, in dark clothing," Mr MacDonald said.

"This placed him in front of [the officer’s] vehicle. The collision was unfortunately unavoidable."

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