A local real estate agent has been left with horrific bruises following a traumatic incident after attending the fireworks on Saturday night in Vancouver.
Like thousands of people, Karen Ericson had left Vancouver’s English Bay area following the Honda Celebration of Light and was bound for home. She was on a very packed bus to the North Shore when about five people in their 20s confronted the bus driver. She says they wanted to get on the bus, but the driver didn’t want to let them.
She says they were verbally abusive to the driver, and in particular, one of the women in the group was loudly swearing and screaming at the driver.
Ericson says that’s when she started filming.
“I pulled up my phone so that I could video to protect the bus driver in case [of future] ramifications,” she said.
Security arrived and after a discussion with the driver, the group was allowed to stay on board. However, a security team member rode on the bus with them.
“As we carried on, one of the girls from the group started yelling at me saying, ‘You know, you effing shouldn’t be videoing us, you effing, it’s illegal.’”
“I just kind of sat there at that point. And then started talking to one of the girls in that group because I, again, I felt very intimidated,” she said.
After getting off the bus in West Vancouver, she had walked just a few feet towards her car when she was struck from behind.
“I was completely blindsided. I don’t even remember like what hit me if it hit my head [or] where but I was basically hit and then thrown down to the ground face first,” she said. “I turned around to see what had happened and saw two girls running away,” she said.
“It was pretty traumatic.”
West Vancouver police confirmed that officers responded to a report of an assault early Sunday morning in the Park Royal area.
“A 22-year-old female was arrested at the scene of the assault. She has since been released on conditions pending a court appearance in November,” Sgt. Mark McLean told Daily Hive.
He says police will be recommending a charge of Assault Causing Bodily Harm in this case to the BC Prosecution Service for consideration.
“The victim in this case didn’t do anything wrong,” McLean said.
“We do recommend that the public contact police if they are involved in a confrontation so that it can be de-escalated before it can turn violent. In this specific case, there didn’t appear to be any warning prior to the assault, however, we are still investigating.”
For Ericson, she is still suffering from the effects of a concussion four days later, as well as bruising to her face and legs.
“I think [I am] very, very lucky that it wasn’t worse,” she said, adding nothing was broken.
But, the incident has left her more concerned about safety and she shared a video speaking about her experience on social media in hopes of bringing her experience to light.
“[I was] targeted because I got involved. And so it begs the question, are people going to stop involving themselves because there’s the fear of retaliation?
“I think it’s a question people are asking themselves and I think it’s a very sad statement because Vancouver every day, it seems like we’ve got incidences that are getting worse and it doesn’t seem like a lot of repercussions for the individuals,” she said.
“It’s becoming a city that I don’t recognize. I’m almost 60 and I don’t recognize the city anymore,” she explained.
After the attack, she says she felt she would not get involved again.
“I thought to myself, ‘I’ll never do this again’… Now four days have gone by and [I feel] I would absolutely do it again, go to bat for somebody because that’s just sort of who we are. Most of my family and friends would do the same thing. It’s who we are as Canadians,” she said.
She added that she questions the response from transit officials to allow the group to ride the bus after their behaviour was questioned by the driver.
“What I saw and my feelings on it is this bus driver was undermined by what he wanted. He didn’t want the people on the bus and the security came on and overruled him,” she said.
“He drew out, drove off, and was furious. He was really upset. And you know, in hindsight, he was right,” she said.
“You can walk onto a plane and if you’re aggressive, if you’re verbally abusive… you’re not coming on. If you go into a retail outlet where a sign says ‘We will not tolerate verbal abuse or harsh language,’ but this poor bus driver — and he’s certainly not the only one — I’m sure has to deal with this every single day,” she said.
“It was very saddening to me,” she said.
The District of West Vancouver, which operates Blue Bus Transit, told Daily Hive that safety is a top priority.
“The event was handled swiftly and appropriately, and involved ongoing communication and collaboration between our dispatch, the driver, transit security and the transit supervisor. Dispatch contacted security, and the response was almost immediate, with security staying on the bus to ride it from downtown to Park Royal North to ensure that the safety of the driver and passengers was never compromised,” a statement to Daily Hive reads in part.
“At Park Royal, a supervisor boarded to speak to the driver and ask if he was ok to continue. From there, the bus continued its route to Horseshoe Bay after being cleared to continue by the supervisor and transit security on site,” the city said.