RCMP Cruiser Generic
(file photo)

BC’s police watchdog has been called in to investigate the death of a 19-year-old Saanich man after his car plunged into the ocean Saturday night.

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC confirmed they were investigating the incident that began with the West Shore RCMP and culminated in North Saanich.

According to the IIO, earlier that day West Shore RCMP arrested Brayden Veldhuyzen van Zanten around 3 p.m., then released him around 7 p.m. that night.

The details surrounding his arrest were not released, however, about 20 minutes after being released, he was reported to have breached his conditions. West Shore RCMP contacted Veldhuyzen van Zanten about the breach, and he was not taken into custody.

At around 9 p.m., Veldhuyzen van Zanten’s car plunged into the Pat Bay at the end of Mills Road where it intersects with West Saanich Road in North Saanich.

Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, paramedics and firefighters quickly responded to the area after receiving multiple reports of the car driving into the ocean.

“Upon arrival they located the vehicle, and a single occupant within it,” said Sgt. Chris Manseau.

The driver and lone occupant of the car died and was later confirmed to be the same man West Shore RCMP had recently arrested and released.

A search of the shore and area did not reveal any other people involved.

Family and friends identified Veldhuyzen van Zanten as the driver and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help his mother Christy Strachan to assist her through this tragedy.

“This has been a shock to the family and they need time to heal,” the GoFundMe page read.

“Christy is no stranger to pain as she lost her daughter Emily in April of 2018 to a blood clot. For a mother to lose not one child but both is unimaginable.”

The IIO is investigating the incident to determine if police actions or inactions may have played a role in the man’s death.

The IIO reviews all incidents involving officers and serious harm or death, regardless of if there are allegations of wrongdoing.

The investigation is ongoing.

Manseau said the investigation is still underway, but does not appear suspicious.

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