Officer springs into action while on vacation

Canso officer stops car with drunk driver at wheel

By Helen Murphy    

CANSO – Burns Anderson was in the right place at the right time last Tuesday, Aug. 1, and his quick actions may have averted a tragedy.

Burns and his wife were on vacation and arrived at White Point Lodge in Queen’s County a little too early to check in, he told The Journal Sunday. They decided to go to Liverpool for lunch but didn’t get far from the resort when they encountered a car driving erratically coming toward them.

“He came too close to our car,” said Anderson. “He had his window down and I could see he was clearly intoxicated.” He said the driver was leaning against the door and his head was drifting out the window, his eyes half closed.

They were on the narrow road that leads to the resort and passes through a golf course. The car, he said, was taking a full sweep of the road, drifting side to side.

Anderson said it seemed the driver was passing out when the car would slow down to 10-15 kms an hour, but then it would hit the side of the road “and come to and speed up again.”

There was no cell reception on the road so Anderson could not call 911 to get uniformed officers to respond. At first he stayed behind the erratic car, honking on his horn. But the drunk driver was getting close to the parking area of the lodge and Anderson, who had just been there five minutes earlier, knew there were many families around and kids were running about.

So when the car slowed down again, Anderson got close enough with his car to stop and run to the other vehicle, open the door and reach across the driver to put it in park.

He identified himself as a police officer and told the driver he was under arrest for impaired driving. Anderson said he got the driver out of the car and told him again he was under arrest.

Within seconds Anderson was assisted by two other vacationing police officers, one from Toronto and the other from Waterloo.

Reflecting on the incident, Anderson said his training and experience made it clear what had to be done. “It’s not the first time I’ve put a running vehicle into park to stop it,” he said.

But this kind of call to action doesn’t usually happen when he’s on vacation.

“It is the first time on vacation that I’ve had to hands-on intervene,” he said.

“I’d like to think that anybody would do what they could to stop him.”