The final weekend of Whistler's Crankworx mountain bike festival turned violent as two young men from the Lower Mainland suffered serious injuries in an alleged double stabbing while a third sustained a fractured skull in an alleged assault just 30 minutes later.
The two incidents occurred during the early morning hours on Saturday (Aug. 14). Police received numerous calls about the stabbing incident and arrived at the scene near the corner of Main Street and Northlands Boulevard at around 2:25 a.m. to find two males lying on the ground, bleeding, about 18 metres (50 feet) apart, RCMP Sgt. Shawn LeMay said.
As the first police officers arrived, they saw a young male who met the description of the suspect running along Main Street, before turning toward Marketplace. Police pursued the suspect and made the arrest moments later, LeMay said.
Based on witness statements, police investigating the incident have so far determined that when the altercation broke out, the suspect - a youth from Abbotsford - had one male friend with him, facing off against five others. The first victim of the alleged stabbing, a 20-year-old from Burnaby, was a member of the second group, LeMay said.
As the altercation progressed, another male who was standing across the street with a girlfriend decided to attempt to break up the fight, and wound up as the second stabbing victim, LeMay said.
The Burnaby man was stabbed underneath his left arm, with the knife having entered his rib cage, The second victim, a 24-year-old from North Vancouver, was stabbed in the chest and suffered a punctured a lung, with the knife having just missed his heart. He was taken to Whistler Health Care Centre, then airlifted to Vancouver for further treatment. LeMay could not provide an update on his condition.
Based on their investigations so far, "we have reason to believe that the suspect had two knives on his person," LeMay said.
The suspect, who cannot be identified under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, faces two charges of assault with a weapon, and is set to make a first appearance on Sept. 15 in North Vancouver Provincial Court.
Just 33 minutes later, police on patrol along Blackcomb Way heard sounds coming from Day Skier Lot No. 3 indicating that a confrontation was taking place.
Officers found a crowd of about 30 people dispersing as police vehicles arrived. An 18-year-old man from Langley was left lying on the ground, injured. While most of those at the scene dispersed when police arrived, two nearby witnesses - believed to be staff members from a nearby business - told police the victim had been "stumped on the head" by between 20 and 30 people, LeMay said.
The victim was taken to the Whistler Health Care Centre, where he was diagnosed with a basal skull fracture before being transported to the trauma centre at Vancouver General Hospital for treatment.
LeMay said he has since spoke to the victim's mother, who reported that her son was expected to make a full recovery.
Police are investigating both incidents. Anyone with information is asked to call Whistler RCMP at (604) 932-3044 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
It was a busy long weekend for police, LeMay said. Most of the serious incidents occurred Friday night, but call volume was heavier on Saturday. In all, police had 14 reports of assaults, and seven weapons-related offences, LeMay said.
During the daylight hours, the mood in Whistler Village was festive, with many families and resort guests enjoying the Crankworx festivities. But the scene turned ugly at night, LeMay said.
"We were swamped," he said. "The tone in the Village, and the type of calls we handled, were very similar to a May long weekend."
Police had extra officers on hand to deal with the festival crowds, he said.
"We felt that we were well-staffed for Crankworx, but the crowd was huge and people were here to party hardy, and they did.
"There were a significant number of liquor charges laid, specifically to minors," LeMay said, adding that in a few instances, 15- and 16-year-olds were found hanging out on the nooks and crannies of the Village with liquor in their hands.
Police also attended several loud parties in Whistler's neighbourhoods, and had to break up a few altercations there. Police also set up roadside check stops at Function Junction on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Friday alone, they issued 41 violation tickets or vehicle maintenance orders, arrested three people for impaired driving, made three drug seizures and issued three, 24-hour driving prohibitions, one of those for driving while under the influence of drugs, LeMay said.