A prolific Kelowna offender is back on trial.
John Michael Aronson appeared by video from Okanagan Correctional Centre in a Kelowna courtroom on Tuesday, Oct. 13, for the first day of a three day trial on several charges related to an alleged police chase and subsequent collision on Sept. 23, 2019 — the same day he pleaded guilty to several charges surrounding a separate police chase in January 2019.
Aronson is charged with flight from police, dangerous operation of a conveyance, breach of probation and two counts of driving while disqualified.
The incident was investigated by the Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO), which in May 2020 found the RCMP was not liable for the injuries Aronson sustained as a result of the crash. Aronson suffered a fractured skull, broken arm, shoulder, femur, pelvis, knee and ankle.
The report from B.C.’s police watchdog outlines the circumstances preceding the crash. It states an officer followed a man, believed by the RCMP to be Aronson, who at the time had his licence suspended, across the William R. Bennett Bridge towards West Kelowna.
Just before the exit to Westside Road along Highway 97, the officer attempted to pull Aronson over. As soon as the police cruiser’s lights turned on, a civilian witness told the IIO the suspect vehicle quickly cut across traffic lanes and took the exit at a high speed. At that point, the officer stopped the pursuit and turned his lights off while Aronson sped down the on-ramp back onto the highway, according to the witness.
Dash camera footage showed in court on Tuesday and mentioned in the IIO report, caught the vehicle speeding down the shoulder of Highway 97. From there the footage shows the vehicle abruptly swerving left across the southbound lanes and median, colliding with an oncoming northbound vehicle. The court heard on Tuesday from the man in the northbound vehicle.
Aaron Joseph Ross was driving home from work, to Kelowna from Penticton, when he was struck by Aronson’s vehicle. He claims he was out of work for more than a year, only going back last week.
“I just couldn’t get my head together,” he said. “It’s been a challenge over the last year. Everything seemed to be going alright and I get in this car accident and my whole life is flipped upside down. Physically, yeah I’m okay, but mentally — it’s almost a challenge to even talk about it at times.”
Ross claims when he was struck he was quick to get out of the vehicle and he could hear Aronson “screaming for help” from his car. Ross stayed on scene where he spoke to police and said emergency crews had to extricate Aronson from his vehicle.
According to the IIO report, Aronson said he was not aware he was being followed by police and denied being in a chase. He told them his vehicle had been ‘tapped’ by a flat-bed truck that had come racing up behind him. He believed he lost control of his vehicle and after that, only remembered waking up in the hospital.
The trial continues.
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