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Woman fined after tailgating, filming student driver

Police Briefs: Village business receives 'obscene' phone calls


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A Whistler woman was fined this week after she was caught on camera tailgating a student driver on Highway 99 last summer.

The July 14 incident began when the woman started closely tailing the student driver as she was heading southbound from Pemberton.

"The whole way from the heliport to Lorimer Road, she basically harassed and bullied us the whole time," recalled Todd McGivern, owner and instructor with Licence to Drive, who was in the passenger seat at the time. "Honking her horn, flashing her lights, and putting on her turn signal to tell us to move over."

At one point, the woman pulled out her cellphone to snap photos of the other car.

"While she was taking pictures, she was literally swerving in the lanes, dangerously close to the centre solid line," McGivern added.

But the woman wasn't the only one recording: McGivern's vehicle is equipped with a rear-facing camera, which captured the entire incident. The footage worked in his favour after the woman called police to complain that the student driver was going too slow, making her late for work. She also called the driving school's office manager to complain.

"She calls the police, the police review the footage, and they end up charging her," McGivern explained.

After reviewing the tape, police charged the woman with using an electronic device while driving, and changing lanes on a solid line. She failed to show up to her court date on Monday, March 12, requesting an adjournment due to childcare issues. The judge denied her request, leading to a fine of nearly $500 and the loss of six demerit points.

The incident speaks to the regular backlash faced by student drivers on Whistler's roads, according to McGivern.

"We're constantly being harassed. This is a typical thing, not maybe to this extent, but it happens on a daily basis," he explained.

That was echoed by Carrie Turchinetz, owner-operator of the Sea to Sky Driving School, also based in Pemberton.

"As hard as this is to believe, when you have a lesson and you go out there and don't get treated poorly, it's a rare day," she said. "It's almost every lesson you get something, especially in tourist season."

Turchinetz, a former paramedic who has been running the driving school for close to three years, relayed several troubling incidents similar to what McGivern and his student driver experienced.

"Even after all my years of strong nerves being a paramedic, this stuff has made me nervous," she admitted.

Turchnietz said the Novice and Learning stickers on her vehicle essentially put a target on her students' backs when they're out on the roads trying to learn.

"I drive home after my lesson and I take my stickers off the car, so I'm just a regular, black Toyota Corolla, and I will drive the exact same way home from my lesson as I did with the stickers on, and people act totally different," she said. "The minute they see the stickers, they are filled with anger."

Both instructors are hopeful this incident gets people thinking differently about student drivers when they're behind the wheel.

"I want to ask the community to remember that they also started with no experience at all. These students have no experience either, and they're trying to get that experience, so we need to let them," McGivern urged.

Village business receives 'obscene' phone call, police say

Police are investigating the report of obscene phone calls to a village business this week.

At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, an employee of the retail store called the RCMP to report two phone calls the shop had received from a male just minutes apart. Police said the male was "asking strange questions and making strange noises, leading (the employee) to believe he was making obscene phone calls," according to a release.

Although the suspect was difficult to hear, the employee told investigators it sounded like he was speaking about the clothing she was wearing.

Despite conducting patrols of the area, Mounties were unable to track down the suspect. Anyone with relevant information regarding this incident is asked to call Whistler RCMP at 604-932-3044 or Sea to Sky Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.