Pubdate: Thu, 10 Jul 2014
Source: Nor'wester, The (CN NF)
Copyright: 2014, Transcontinental Media
Author: Rudy Norman
Page: A1


It was a night Vera Rice would rather forget.

The cancer survivor, now in her 60s, was pulled over by police 
heading home to Seal Cove from treatment at the hospital in Baie 
Verte and brought to the RCMP detachment in Deer Lake for drug testing.

Rice is now cancer-free. But the weak bones and treatment from years 
gone by have also left her with infections. A few years ago she 
underwent treatment for a serious infection that had gotten into her 
bones, and in recent weeks, the same type of infection has returned.

Rice says she travelled from Seal Cove to the hospital in Baie Verte 
for a couple of weeks, twice a day in order to receive intravenous 
treatment for the infection in her bones. The hours were often 
nonsensical, as the schedule of her treatments had her on the road 
all hours of the night.

"I would go over in the evening, and the treatment would take so 
long, and it would be late in the night when I'd leave to go back 
home," she said.

"Then the next day I was back over there again in the early morning."

The strain of driving back and forth to the hospital made for 
stressful and troubling times.

However, she says one particular night while leaving the hospital for 
treatment, she had an experience she won't soon forget.

"I was driving home, and I was just about to take the turnoff to go 
out to Seal Cove," she said. "I saw there was a cop car pulled off on 
the side of the road, but I didn't mind that, I just went on. Then 
the cop car pulled out with their lights on and pulled me over."

It was around midnight. Rice says she wasn't speeding at the time, 
and was wearing her seatbelt, thus leaving her confused.

"The cop came up and asked me why I was going so slow" she said. "I 
told her I was going slow because it was dark, and I don't like 
driving at night."

Rice says the officer asked for her licence and registration, and 
also asked if she'd been drinking or doing drugs.

"I told her I'd just come from the hospital getting my treatment, so 
the only drugs that were in me were antibiotics," she said.

After more questions, Rice says she was asked to get out of the car. 
It was then the officer issued a field sobriety test.

"She asked me to walk a straight line and to stand on one foot and 
balance, and all this," said Rice. "I couldn't do it because of my 
condition and the infection I had in my bones."

Rice says she tried to explain to the officer about her condition and 
why she wasn't able to do the things she asked, but felt she wasn't heeded.

Needless to say, the woman failed the test.

"She put me in the back of her car ... and told me she was taking me 
to Deer Lake for a drug test." Rice was shocked at the news. "I asked 
her was there any need, and told her if she'd just go back to the 
hospital they could tell her what was wrong and why I couldn't do 
what she wanted me to do." Rice says the officer wouldn't consent to 
her wishes. After calling home to inform a friend what was happening, 
Rice says she was off to Deer Lake in the back of the squad car.

Once there, tests proved that she wasn't under the influence. It was 
then they set off back to Baie Verte once again, arriving just after 
5 a.m., and just a couple of hours before Rice was scheduled for her 
next treatment.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "Why did I have to go through 
that? Wasn't there an easier way to find out I wasn't doing anything wrong?"

Cpl. Justin Hewlett with Baie Verte RCMP says everything that 
happened in this incident was normal procedure for a case like this.

"When it comes to people who are potentially under the influence of 
drugs, that takes specialized training to determine whether or not 
they are or not" he said. "There are only a few officers in the 
province who have that training, and unfortunately neither of them 
are stationed in Baie Verte."

Hewlett says the closest officer available on the night of Rice's 
incident was in fact in Stephenville, however to save time, he 
travelled to Deer Lake to carry out the tests there.

"When dealing with these circumstances, time is our biggest factor 
and it isn't on our side," he said. "If we identify someone who could 
potentially be under the influence, we have to get them tested as 
soon as we can, to ensure accurate results."

That reasoning, he said, is why the officer that pulled Rice over 
didn't heed her advice of investigating the matter with the hospital.

"We can't spend time chasing down information - the fastest way to 
know if a person is a danger is to do the testing, and that's what 
happened here."

Hewlett says he realizes the experience may have been an unpleasant 
one for Rice, however, he stressed that the RCMP are merely doing their jobs.

"If we see someone we believe may be under the influence, based on 
our training and the signs we look for, then we have a duty to ensure 
that person is safe, and the rest of the public is safe. That's our job."

Rice says after some explanation she now understands why she had to 
go through what she went through.
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