Charges laid after Burnaby flaggers hit by SUV
Charges have been laid after a white SUV struck two flaggers in Burnaby two weeks ago, seriously injuring one.
Brenda Ouma Aregay, 38, of Surrey, was charged Wednesday with two counts of assault with a weapon, two counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, two counts of fail to stop at the scene of an accident and two counts of assault, according to an RCMP Burnaby news release.
The charges relate to the hit and run of two flaggers that occurred on June 28 on 10th Avenue near Kingsway in Burnaby.
The hit-and-run of the first flagger was caught on video, which went viral on the internet and outraged many people.
The incident prompted threats by flaggers to block Lower Mainland bridges during rush hour if charges were not laid.
Curtis Williams — the interim executive director of the newly registered non-profit B.C. Flaggers Association, and safety manager with Ansan Traffic Group — said he was relieved that charges had been laid.
“It is great that justice is being served,” he said. “As an association, we’re happy with that outcome. Personally, I had no doubt” that the justice system would do its job.
He said earlier threats by flagger Diane Herback, who was one of the people to first push for a flaggers’ association, to protest at bridges would not have been in the best interest of flaggers.
“It just created a headache for the public and for the police,” he said. “You’re not doing anything (to help) and you’re making everyone look bad.”
Williams said that while the incident shows drivers need to be careful, flaggers also need to learn from the incident about not putting themselves in harm’s way, especially with upset, aggressive motorists who may be under stress.
He said he’s setting up a board for the new flaggers’ association and has already found representatives from the two largest unions that represent flaggers to sit on the board. The group is also looking for a permanent executive director.
“My whole thing is I want the best thing for the flaggers,” said Williams. “This will give power back to the flaggers, which is a good first step.
"We will be seeking additional members of the flagging community to join the board of directors, and encourage any flagger who wants to make a difference to contact us.”
Previously, Herback’s “association” was really just a Facebook group. “She founded an idea,” he said, but that “there has been some misinformation,” including the claim to the media that the Crown was not planning on laying charges in the case.
Still, Williams thanked Herback for her “hard work” in advancing the cause of flaggers.
“Her vision and passion will live on and she is a true pioneer within the flagging industry,” said a media release from the new association.
“Our goal and vision is to bring the community of flaggers in British Columbia together, forming a united voice and cumulative effort in making the industry safer for everyone on the road,” said the release.
Burnaby RCMP is asking anyone with information about the incident to call them at 604-294-7922 or, if they wish to remain anonymous, to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or submit a tip at www.solvecrime.ca.