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Suspect in deadly hit and run had been ordered to take driving test

An elderly driver suspected in a deadly hit-and-run accident in Coquitlam last November was previously investigated for two other hit and run incidents. - TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO
An elderly driver suspected in a deadly hit-and-run accident in Coquitlam last November was previously investigated for two other hit and run incidents.
— image credit: TRI-CITY NEWS FILE PHOTO

An elderly driver suspected in a hit-and-run collision that killed two people in Coquitlam last November had been ordered by ICBC to take a driving test days before the crash.

Eugene Muirhead, a 90-year-old Second World War veteran police believe was at the wheel at the time of the crash, had a history of hit-and-run incidents, according to court documents. A search warrant application also noted that he was extremely hard of hearing and required two canes to walk.

Juan and Marta Rosales were crossing Austin Avenue at Gatensbury on Nov. 27, 2013 when they were struck and killed shortly after 3:30 p.m. Witnesses said a silver Dodge Ram stopped about 50 m from the crash site before fleeing the scene.

Another witness followed the truck to a nearby home, where police took a man into custody and impounded his vehicle.

The search warrant application was required to allow police to look for DNA, fibres, fingerprints and damage on the Dodge Ram, and outlined what investigators knew a short time after the incident.

Muirhead had visited the Port Moody Legion that afternoon, where he drank coffee with fellow Legion members, the document said. He then drove to the Austin Fish House for chicken and rice, a restaurant at which he regularly ate that is located near the crash site.

When questioned by police, Muirhead admitted that he had been in the area but denied hitting anyone with his vehicle.

"That's a bunch of baloney," he told police, according to the search warrant application. "I did not hit anyone. If I hit someone, I would have stopped."

Muirhead was detained by police for a short period of time the night of the crash for failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

On Monday, Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Jamie Chung said the investigation into the incident was ongoing and he expected a report to be forwarded to Crown counsel in the near future.

"Because nobody has been charged, we can't really say too much about it," Chung said. "We are still in the process of putting some different kinds of reports together."

The November incident was the second time a hit-and-run causing death occurred in the Tri-Cities.

In September, 15-year-old Annie Leung, a student at Riverside secondary in Port Coquitlam, was struck and killed by a driver in a pickup, who fled the scene.

That incident occurred at Mary Hill and Pitt River roads and police are still searching for a suspect.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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