An East Vancouver couple is desperately searching for information after a dark grey 2007 to 2017 Jeep Patriot ran over their dog in a deadly hit and run on Saturday afternoon.
Just before 1 p.m. Aug. 20, Becca McMeekin was crossing the intersection at Pender and Garden with her one-year-old Corgi-Pomeranian Tobi when a driver who was allegedly "flying down Hastings" turned onto Garden Drive and struck McMeekin and ran over her on-leash dog before turning left onto Pender and right onto Nanaimo.
"Becca screamed at him to stop but he didn't. She jumped out of the way and the vehicle grazed her," says McMeekin's partner Michael Rush.
"He ran over my dog," interjects McMeekin through tears.
"Becca started screaming and even made eye contact with the driver, whose vehicle window was open, but he didn't slow down," adds Rush.
"We looked both ways," recalls McMeekin. "He came out of nowhere and I just remember thinking, is he going to stop? And then by the time he had hit me I could hear my dog under his car."
The pair describe the driver as a South Asian male in his mid-40s, with greying hair on the sides. They are currently working with neighbours and business owners in the area to track down the licence plate of the vehicle.
"I got the phone call from [McMeekin] immediately," says Rush "I got to where she was only four minutes later. I thought she was telling me that somebody had kidnapped Tobi."
In the aftermath of the incident, Rush says neighbours rushed over and put a towel over Tobi.
"I'd like to really express my gratitude to them for being so compassionate and kind."
McMeekin also called 911 but the dispatcher said they couldn't send an officer without a licence plate. They followed up with the non-emergency line and were told the same thing a second time.
"The constable I spoke to through the non-emergency line told us that firstly, without a licence plate, they can't pursue anything. Secondly, even if they had a licence plate, they wouldn't be able to prove that he was the driver of the car," says Rush. "We're both very disappointed in police for not responding to the scene of the accident."
McMeekin sustained soft tissue damage, according to a recent doctor's visit but didn't mention her own injuries to Vancouver police at the time. Vancouver Is Awesome reached out to the Vancouver Police Department for comment but they were unable to answer our questions.
The pair filed a claim with ICBC; they were told again little could be done without a licence plate number. However, BC SPCA has assigned an officer to help with the investigation into the identity of the driver.
The couple, extremely shaken up, say they have moments of breaking down, moments of anger, and moments of calm.
"I remember as I was lying on the grass screaming and grieving my dog, I just remember the neighbours saying over and over again, 'We've been asking for a roundabout in this exact spot for years and the city hasn't done anything about it,'" says McMeekin. "And other neighbours have said they've seen over and over again near-misses constantly and nothing has been done. It's a dangerous spot."
Vancouver Is Awesome reached out to the City of Vancouver for comment and a spokesperson confirmed that "the city has received six requests regarding the intersection at Pender and Garden between 2016 and 2020 relating to safety measures such as speed bumps and traffic circles." However, they also said in an emailed statement that "the traffic circle process was never initiated formally by residents."
McMeekin says she got Tobi after a bad breakup and that they went everywhere together. When she moved to Vancouver from Calgary with Tobi, many of the friends she made in the community came from taking Tobi to the dog park. She says that Tobi became a fixture in their East Van neighbourhood.
"I would walk her down the street, people would be like 'Oh, hi Tobi.' And I don't even know them."
Now, she dreads running into people on the street and having to explain the situation.
"How do you go to the dog park without a dog?" she asks.