BC’s police watchdog has cleared police in any wrongdoing in the death of a 19-year-old Saanich man whose car plunged into the ocean last November.
The incident began with the West Shore RCMP and culminated in North Saanich.
According to the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), West Shore RCMP arrested Brayden Veldhuyzen van Zanten around 3 p.m. on November 20th, 2021, then released him around 7 p.m. that same day.
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.
Emergency crews located the vehicle and a single occupant within it.
Veldhuyzen van Zanten, who was the lone occupant of the car, was found deceased and was later confirmed to be the same man West Shore RCMP had recently arrested and released.
Days later, gamily and friends identified Veldhuyzen van Zanten as the driver and a GoFundMe page was set up to help his mother Christy Strachan.
“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 said they reviewed the evidence, including civilian witness statements, medical information, and police records, and determined that neither police action nor inaction played a role in the Veldhuyzen van Zanten’s tragic death.
“There were concerns regarding the man’s mental wellness, but available information reflects that grounds did not exist to apprehend the man under the Mental Health Act,” IIOBC Chief Civilian Director Ronald MacDonald wrote in his report.
While the IIO investigation has concluded, the BC Coroners Service independent investigation is ongoing.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the B.C. Crisis Centre Distress Line number at 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-784-2433.