Some Weyburn residents were left shaken after encounters with a 27-year-old woman from Okotoks, Alta., who is facing several charges under the Criminal Code following a high speed chase of a stolen truck that occurred on Saturday; the chase was initiated in Weyburn and ended in Rouleau near the set for the "Corner Gas" movie.
Before getting to Weyburn, city resident Boyd Dennis encountered her heading west on Highway 13 near Hume, as he headed east to Kenosee Lake with his wife and two of their four children in their Ford SUV.
"My wife yelled, 'there's a truck coming at us!' There was no one else in the other lane it was like she was veering towards me. She came within inches of hitting me," he said, noting he had to go partially into the ditch to avoid a head-on collision.
"She scared the hell out of us. It's the closest to death I've ever come," he said, describing how he slammed on the brakes and pulled over with two of his wheels in the ditch, and the other two just barely on the road, and the oncoming vehicle didn't veer away at all.
From news reports of the ensuing chase, Dennis found out afterwards from the vehicle description that this was the same vehicle he encountered.
Just prior to the chase, the woman approached some homes to try and make a phone call, including the home of Mayor Debra Button on Assiniboia Street, in an encounter that left her shaken.
Noting she had been at Nickle Lake and was only at home for a moment, Button heard a knock on her back door, which is never used by visitors.
"There was a woman standing there carrying a screwdriver. She said she's not from here and asked to use my phone. She was agitated; it seemed weird to me, so I wouldn't let her in. I said 'you're a block away from downtown, go and use a public phone.'"
The woman swore at her, and went back out to a Dodge truck on the street; when the mayor went outside to check if she had done any damage to her house or vehicle, the woman continued to swear at her before driving away.
Button said she filed a report about the encounter with the city police, and found at the time they were involved in the chase with the woman out of the city and up Highway 39.
Weyburn Police Service officers initially attempted to stop the stolen 2014 Dodge Ram when it fled north on Highway 39 towards Milestone. Several motorists on that highway reported via 911 that the driver was driving erratically and operating the vehicle at an extremely high rate of speed.
The speed was such that Weyburn Police Service as well as RCMP units disengaged from pursuing the vehicle. An RV driver reported that their vehicle had been struck by this vehicle near Milestone, damaging both vehicles. As the vehicle sped north on Highway 39, RCMP White Butte, Regina Police Service as well as Moose Jaw RCMP were put on the lookout for this vehicle as it might be heading in their direction.
A motorist reported to 911 that the vehicle was driving erratically and at a high rate of speed near Wilcox, heading west. At this point, Moose Jaw RCMP positioned themselves near Drinkwater, and were set to deploy a spike belt if the vehicle was observed. Following the sighting in Wilcox, after searching Highway 39 and several grid roads in the area, the vehicle was located abandoned next to Ruby's Cafe at the "Corner Gas" movie set in Rouleau. The vehicle had a cracked front windshield and the two side mirrors were missing.
Witnesses at the movie set assisted with information that led police to arrest the woman without incident, and she was taken into custody. The vehicle was towed to the RCMP Forensic Identification Section in Regina where it has since been examined. The vehicle was reported stolen out of Calgary with the license plate reported stolen out of Manitoba.
Stephanie Martens, 27 years old, from Okotoks, is facing numerous charges under the Criminal Code, including impaired driving, three charges of dangerous driving, failure to remain at the scene of a collision, two charges of possession of stolen property, and flight from police.
Martens was remanded and appeared in Regina Provincial Court on Monday morning, and was remanded into custody for a show-cause hearing today, July 30, in Regina court.
Numerous agencies assisted with this investigation including the Weyburn Police Service, Moose Jaw City Police and the Regina Police Service. Assisting RCMP detachments included White Butte, Milestone, Weyburn, Moose Jaw, Radville, as well as RCMP Traffic Services. The RCMP Dog Services and the Forensic Identification Unit from Regina also assisted.
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