The Insurance Corporation of B.C. is retracting a claim that West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett was negligent when she was killed after being struck by a drunk driver who sped through a red light in 2016.
In an effort to recoup costs of Beckett’s damaged RCMP cruiser, the Attorney General of Canada filed a civil claim against Kenneth Fenton and his insurer, ICBC, in March 2018.
An ICBC response came about two months later, denying facts in the claim and saying the “sole, proximate and direct cause of such collision and such personal injuries, loss, expense or damage was the negligence of the deceased Const. Sarah Beckett.”
On Friday afternoon, after a request for comment, ICBC said the decision to suggest Beckett was liable for the crash was a mistake.
“We’re deeply sorry,” the statement from ICBC says. “We are taking immediate steps to fix this error. We will be instructing our cousel to amend that defence to admit the defendant is fully liable for this accident.”
Beckett, a 32-year-old mother of two boys, had recently returned from maternity leave when she was killed in the line of duty in Langford.
Kenneth Jacob Fenton was handed a four year prison sentence in July, 2017 for charges of impaired driving and dangerous driving causing death.
Beckett was killed after her police cruiser was struck by Fenton’s pickup truck which was speeding through the intersection of Peatt Road and Goldstream Avenue.
Fenton’s blood-alcohol level was three-and-a-half times the legal limit. He was already being pursued by an RCMP officer in a different police vehicle because his taillights were not illuminated and he was travelling almost double the 50 kilometre per hour posted speed limit.
ICBC accused Beckett of “failing to keep a proper or any lookout,” “failing to see the defendant’s motor vehicle at a reasonable time,” “failing to give warning by sounding the horn,” and other allegations of neglect.
In the response, ICBC said Beckett had a duty of care to Fenton and to others using the highway.
“The act of colliding with the vehicle operated by the defendant, Kenneth Jacob Fenton, and owned by the defendant, Kenneth Jacob Fenton, was a breach of that duty.”
A statement from West Shore RCMP Insp. Todd Preston said the detachment is aware of the civil suit and the response filed by ICBC.
“On our end we remain deeply affected by the loss of our friend and respected colleague, Sarah,” Preston said. “The timing of this story coming out so close to Christmas leaves myself and the membership of West Shore RCMP saddened.”