A 77-year-old man has been charged after allegedly hitting four people with his truck as they raised awareness on the harrowing legacy of residential schools last spring.
Richard Manuel of Deroche, B.C., faces one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle in relation to the June incident in Mission, which sent two people to the hospital with minor injuries.
“It’s really disappointing. I think there should have been more charges,” said one of the alleged victims, Troy Ingraldi, on Thursday.
“Dangerous operation of a motor vehicle is not enough … he should have been charged with a hit-and-run.”
The second annual March for Recognition for Residential Schools, organized by the Crazy Indians Brotherhood BC, took place on June 4. Participants were making their way from Heritage Park to the site of the former St. Mary’s Residential School, temporarily blocking the eastbound lane of the Lougheed Highway, when they encountered the angry driver of a blue truck.
Ingraldi, who was doing traffic control march, said the man had been honking his horn and trying to get around other cars in the lane.
“He came up on us and he was driving really fast so I jumped out in front and was like, ‘Stop, stop, stop,’ and he stopped and he got out and he started yelling and screaming,” Ingraldi told Global News on June 4.
At the time, police said they had been called to the march by a bystander after it “appeared as though a fight was about to break out.” When they arrived, the driver had already allegedly struck the participants.
Ingraldi said the man had exited his truck and yelled at him, saying the group should get off the road and let traffic through. When he told the man to be patient, he said the driver became further enraged.
“He was like, ‘I’ll run everyone down on this highway if I want to,’ and like maybe 50 yards in front of me we had small children from the ages of two all the way up to 14.”
Ingraldi said when the man got back into his truck, he stepped in front of the vehicle to stop him. The man then drove through him, knocking him to the ground, he said.
“He started screaming and yelling more, and then he took off again, and children and women and some brotherhood guys had to jump out of the way,” he said.
Ingraldi revealed Thursday he suffered soft tissue damage to his right hip, a concussion, and damage to his left hand and lip as a result of the incident.
Shortly after the march, Mounties described the driver as “impatient.” The driver later turned himself in.
For months, the RCMP kept largely silent on their investigation into the incident, only revealing in September that a package of evidence had been sent to the BC Prosecution Service. Ingraldi expressed frustration with the pace of the investigation on Thursday, when Mission RCMP announced the charge against Manuel had been approved.
Standing side by side with Ingraldi, Kailey Ashley agreed.
“Last year, it was an amazing march. We had full support with RCMP and this year, it went sideways and lots of lives were put in danger,” she told Global News. “Being Indigenous land that we’re on, if we need to have a march, we need to have a march … we just hope that next year is better.”
Manuel is scheduled to appear in Abbotsford Provincial Court on Jan. 9.
In its Thursday news release, Mounties said “an incident occurred resulting in the driver striking several persons along the way.”
Global News has reached out for more information.
— with files from Simon Little
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