EDSON, Alta. – Robert Price calls it the longest drive of his life.
The 43-year-old Alberta trucker spent three-hours driving along a B.C. highway Monday after an assailant came to his window, waving a handgun, demanding that Price drive him away from the turnout in the road where Price had been taking a break.
“He came to my window and said you don’t have a choice — your only two choices are, are you driving or am I driving,” Price told The Canadian Press.
“In my own mind, I had no doubt that he wouldn’t have had a problem shooting me to get out of there. I’ve never been in the kind of situation like this.”
It began late Monday afternoon when a RCMP officer found a man slumped over in his running van near Avola, B.C. As the officer was putting the suspect into a police car, the suspect overpowered him and drove off in his original vehicle.
The van driver allegedly forced a pick-up truck to pull over but couldn’t commandeer the vehicle and took off again when police arrived. He ended up stopping at a roadside turnout north of Kamloops where semi-tractor trailers were parked.
He approached one of the trucks, smashed out a window and tried to get the trucker to drive him away.
“He actually left that one and came over to me and when he pulled a gun it was like, ‘yeah I’ll drive you,'” said Price, who grew up in Tabusintac, N.B.
“Once he was in the truck, we were driving down the road and stuff. I think in my mind I was thinking as long as I was doing what he wanted and driving he was really no great threat to me, but it was a long three-hour drive to Kamloops.”
Price said conversation was limited, but his passenger asked him how long he had been driving and said he had owned trucks in the past. Price was worried about what would happen when they eventually reached their final destination.
“That was running through my mind the whole time actually. How does this end?”
Price was on the phone for most of the drive with his boss and the RCMP, but pretended it was his dispatcher. He was able to give information about where the vehicle was and police eventually told him to pull over at the weigh scales near Kamloops.
“I said ‘I’ve got to get out. There’s something screwed up back there.’ I got out slowly and then the cops told me run. As I was running, I heard gunshots and it was actually them taking out the front tires,” said Price.
He said it was the gunshots that really scared him.
“I was waiting for the bullet to hit when I heard the shots. I thought he’s shot at me.”
Despite the use of tear gas, Price said the suspect still tried to drive away and rolled his truck over an embankment.
David Lee Chappell, 33, of the B.C. Lower Mainland, faces a number of charges including kidnapping and use of a firearm in the commission of an offence.
Price is philosophical about the entire experience.
“I have a firm belief that people are put in certain places at certain times for a reason. Maybe I prevented something worse from happening to other people,” he said.
“I kind of joked with my sisters and I said you know how they say at the end of your life, he who wins has the best stories. I said I think I’ve got one of the better ones.”
— By Bill Graveland in Calgary. Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter