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Saturday marks 10 year anniversary of Const. Jimmy Ng's death
Stuart Chan’s Alberta Road apartment looks out onto Garden City Park, where children can often be seen laughing and playing with their families.
Whether the 29-year-old self-described businessman ever becomes a father remains to be seen, but his night of foolishness a decade ago robbed another man of ever experiencing such joy. And left one couple childless and with a wound that will never fully heal.
Saturday is the 10th anniversary of the night Yau Chun Chan became a killer.
While he wasn’t holding a gun, and never fired a bullet, what Chan did do behind the wheel of a sparkling new high-performance 2003 Honda Civic SiR was every bit as deadly.
It was around 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, 2002 that Richmond RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng died when Chan’s Honda roared through a red light at the intersection of No. 3 Road and Williams, and smashed into the side of Ng’s police cruiser.
Chan, just weeks removed from his 19th birthday, had been street racing in his new car that night, according to witnesses, a criminal offence he was eventually punished for, though he never did quite pay his entire debt to society.
Richmond RCMP officers will mark the anniversary Saturday with a moment of silence and more than a few tears.
RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen said it’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since that tragic night.
“It seems like it was yesterday,” said Thiessen, who served as the spokesperson for the Richmond detachment back in 2002. “I clearly remember that evening and clearly remember the days and weeks that followed like it was yesterday.”
Recalling the events of that night remain painful for Thiessen, whose emotional pleas to street racers played out repeatedly over the TV and radio news.
Thiessen was sound asleep when he got the call from a distraught dispatcher who advised him that a fellow Mountie had been involved in a crash.
En route to the devastating crash scene, where Ng’s cruiser was nearly split down the middle, Thiessen was supplied more details about what happened.
“So I became aware...” he said, pausing to regain his composure. “It still has that affect. It just does and I can’t do anything about it. It comes back very easily.”
It was just a couple of days earlier when he and other RCMP members were playing golf with Jimmy Ng at an internal police event.
Ng had already been rushed to hospital when Thiessen arrived at the crash site, but it was clear at that point that Ng wasn’t going to make it.
Thiessen was greeted by the carnage, remembering the sight of the completely destroyed cruiser, parts of Ng’s uniform, and fellow officers who worked alongside Ng nearly every day, struggling to deal with what had just happened.
As investigators pieced together the puzzle of how the crash occurred, through witness interviews and crash reconstruction, at one point it became clear that this wasn’t an accident at all.
Chan had intentionally blasted his way through a red light.
That took it to an entirely different level, Thiessen said, “where an individual trying to protect the community, keep it safe every day, now lost his life with what appears to be a street racing speed related incident.”
Street racing was at the time a big issue in Richmond and the Lower Mainland, with a number of deaths associated with high-speed hi-jinx involving what was often young drivers in powerful and often pricey vehicles.
Chan and Ying Hua David Guian were eventually charged and convicted, though Chan’s handling of his sentence still upsets Ng’s parents, Dr. Chris and Therese Ng.
Chan initially fled the scene after the crash, and Ng’s parents would argue he continues to flee to this day.
He had promised to give a street-racing related presentation to a group of high school students as part of his probation, a commitment that remains unfulfilled to this day.
The Ng family brought their complaints to the justice system, but once Chan had been released and after the expiry of his probationary period following his sentence of two years less a day in jail—of which he served just eight months behind bars—there was nothing the legal system could do to force Chan to keep his word.
Asked if he’s still angry at Chan, Thiessen paused.
“I wouldn’t say I harbour anger toward him. I don’t know him,” he said. “It would be good for the community to see that maybe, hopefully some good has come into his life over the last 10 years since that incident.”
Whether Chan has changed is unclear, but the street racing culture certainly has since 2002.
Ng’s death strengthened the resolve of Richmond Mounties to cut down on the incident of high-speed racing on public streets, he said.
While there are still incidents of street racing today, the amount of carnage isn’t what it was prior to Ng’s death.
Asked if he could ask Chan any questions during a face-to-face discussion, Thiessen said he wants to know why Chan hasn’t followed through with his promises.
In a 2009 e-mail written to the Ng family, Richmond Community Corrections manager Wes Hawkes tried to explain why Chan wasn’t held to his promise.
“Since you first contacted me, Mr. Chan has consistently agreed to make good his moral responsibility to complete the presentation, however, now is unwilling to speak with me or other members of Community Corrections,” Hawkes wrote. “We have had no legal authority over him since expiry of his parole. I am sincerely sorry to communicate this information to you and your wife.”
Thiessen said Ng’s parents have “every reason to be upset and concerned about that. It’s unfortunate that our system allowed something like that to happen.”
Meanwhile, Chan continues to live anonymously at his Richmond condominium, with his mother, father and sister living just a block away.
The Review attempted to reach Chan at his home through his parents. Angel Tam, Chan’s mother, declined to comment saying her son was “out of town.”