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North Van dangerous driver who thought he was in video game handed probation

RCMP received three calls about erratic driving before finding a vehicle stopped in a ditch near Lynn Valley Road
A man who drove dangerously in North Vancouver has been handed 12 months probation. | North Shore News

A North Vancouver driver who swerved between lanes and drove on to curbs while believing he was a character in a video game will avoid a criminal record after pleading guilty to a charge of dangerous driving.

Instead, 27-year-old Mitchell Kurtis Anderson will be banned from driving for one year while serving one year probation.

Judge Joseph Galati handed Anderson a conditional discharge in North Vancouver provincial court Jan. 8.

Crown counsel Samantha Norton told the judge the events leading to the charge happened more than two years ago, on Nov. 17, 2021, when police received three separate phone calls reporting Anderson’s erratic driving.

The first caller, in the Pemberton Heights area, described how the driver “ran into a curb, almost hit someone and then stopped in the middle of an intersection for no apparent reason,” said Norton.

The citizen said the driver “appeared to be out of it and ignored other drivers’ attempts to have them pull over” before leaving the scene, said Norton.

A short time later, a second call came in reporting that the same blue Honda Civic driven by a person wearing a white hoodie was swerving between lanes on Mountain Highway heading towards the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing, “almost hitting several vehicles.”

A third call came in about 20 minutes later from a person near the End of the Line coffee shop near Lynn Valley Road, reporting that a driver of a blue Honda had failed to take a corner, driven on to the curb, narrowly avoiding a hole, then reversed on to a curb on the other side of the lane before heading into a nearby park.

Police arrived and a short time later found a blue Honda Civic pulled over in a small ditch on Lynn Valley Road. Damage to the vehicle and the licence plate matched what had been described by witnesses. Anderson was alone in the vehicle.

In a joint submission on sentencing, Norton noted Anderson’s driving “took place over a relatively large area over a relatively long period of time.” She added that he has no criminal record.

Anderson’s defence lawyer Kyla Lee noted her client had a turbulent childhood, including drug and alcohol use beginning at a young age. At the time of the incident, he was depressed and had turned to drugs which led him down a “bit of a rabbit hole” of delusions, said Lee.

“He believed essentially that he was living in a computer simulation and that if he died, he would just re-spawn to a different point and his life would be better,” she said.

He now realizes “that is obviously not true,” she said. “And he understands that he made a terrible mistake.”

Lee said Anderson has since attended AA and NA and “no longer uses alcohol or drugs regularly.”

He plans to return to school and become qualified in a trade, she said.

In sentencing Anderson, Galati said his driving was dangerous but that he considered Anderson’s mental state at the time, “as well as the fact that you’ve taken steps to rehabilitate yourself.”

“Some people might say driving the way that you drove … putting people’s lives and property in danger … isn’t deserving of avoiding a criminal record,” said Galati. “Luckily for you, I’m not in that group of people.”

Two other charges of impaired driving and refusing a breath test were dropped by the Crown.