A man who led police on a dangerous high-speed chase because he was afraid of getting caught driving without a seatbelt has been jailed.
The pursuit only ended when the fleeing man’s car overheated and he was forced to pull over.
“Basically, he couldn’t go any further and that’s what ended this high-speed chase,” Crown attorney Grant Hughes told Brandon provincial court.
In November, Wayne Stanley Kopichanski pleaded guilty to motor vehicle flight from police.
He was sentenced on Thursday in Brandon provincial court.
On the afternoon of July 22, an RCMP officer was driving along Highway 25 in the RM of Daly when he spotted a speeding car coming the other way.
The officer clocked the suspect car going 168 km/h. The officer switched on the emergency lights of his police vehicle to pull over the car, but the suspect didn’t slow down. After turning around to follow the car, the officer’s radar recorded the fleeing vehicle at 174 km/h.
The pursuing officer then looked in his rear view mirror and saw flashing lights and realized Rivers police were already chasing the suspect.
Rivers police had already been on the chase for 10 minutes. It continued for another three miles — passing other vehicles on the road — before the suspect car overheated and the driver stopped.
Police learned that the car was unregistered and that the driver, Kopichanski, had an inactive licence.
He’d later admit that he’d wanted to go for a drive, even though he didn’t have a driver’s licence, and didn’t think he’d get caught.
At the time of the offence, when asked why he’d fled, Kopichanski said he’d been to the post office and was driving away when he forgot to put on his seatbelt.
He got scared and sped off when a Rivers police officer spotted him without his belt on — had he been charged for that offence, he probably would have got a $300 ticket.
Instead, Judge John Combs sentenced Kopichanski to 60 days in jail on the flight charge and banned him from driving for two years.
Kopichanski was also fined a total of $300 for driving an unregistered vehicle, and driving without a licence under the Highway Traffic Act.