‘Con Air’ returns wanted man to Manitoba

A man on the run from charges of criminal negligence causing death in Manitoba has been arrested in Langley and sent back east to face a trial.

Christopher Shane Watt was located when he was pulled over by Langley RCMP Traffic Services on March 4, police say. A check indicated he had a province-wide warrant in Manitoba for a long list of charges, most stemming from a fatal incident in the early morning hours of July 8, 2012.

At about 2 a.m. that day, Oakbank RCMP say a pickup truck left a house party and approached a rural train crossing.

“I was there that night,” said Acting Staff Sgt. Stu Evans, of the Oakbank RCMP detachment.

Police aren’t sure whether the driver was trying to beat the train, but the results of the collision were disastrous.

“He hit the side of the engine, the lead engine,” said Evans.

The pickup truck was flipped onto its roof, and three people, including Watt, were taken to the hospital. One passenger, a 36-year-old Winnipeg man, was killed.

Watt was thought to be the driver, and blood was taken from him to test for alcohol levels.

Before the test results came back, Watt was gone.

He fled before he could be arrested on charges of criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, two other impaired driving-related charges, and a further charge of fraud over $5,000 from Selkirk, Manitoba.

The officers of Oakbank tried to keep tabs on Watt, hearing he was working in Alberta, then in B.C.

When he turned up on the radar of the Langley RCMP, local officers began talking to their Oakbank counterparts, and had his Manitoba warrants extended to B.C.

On March 14, Watt was arrested by the Langley RCMP and on March 20, he was transported back to Manitoba through the B.C. Fugitive Return Program (BCFRP), along with aid from both Oakbank and Langley RCMP detachments.

The BCFRP is a special operation, funded by the proceeds of seized criminal assets, that returns criminals to other provinces on outstanding warrants. So far, 59 criminals have been sent back east since 2011. Other costs for the return of prisoners include the salary and expenses of the B.C. Sheriff Services officers who escort the suspects, which can account for up to half of the costs of a return.

The police in Oakbank are glad that the family of the victim in this case will now be able to see Watt go to trial.

“Our view was, this needs to be brought to justice,” Evans said. The Oakbank Mounties are indebted for the help they received from Langley, he said.

Watt is not expected to be released to await trial.

“We suspect that he’ll be remanded in custody,” Evans said.

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