A sample image of the suspect vehicle /RCMP

By Laura Keil

On Wednesday, July 5, 2023, Valemount RCMP responded to a fatal crash that claimed the life of 46-year-old Merritt Claire Newman, a City Councillor from Merritt.

The crash occurred sometime between 11:45pm and midnight on Tuesday, July 4, 2023 just west of the B.C.-Alberta border. 

Shortly after midnight Valemount RCMP responded to an automated cell phone crash notification on Hwy 16 near Lucerne Lake. When police arrived, they found a Nissan Frontier running, unlocked and a dog inside. There were no other vehicles in the area when police arrived.

A closer examination of the scene showed a woman in the ditch down an embankment near the vehicle. Sadly, she was deceased.

Evidence located at the scene suggests the woman may have been struck by a vehicle while outside her car. Police located a headlight assembly that has been identified as belonging to a 2016 to 2018 Jeep Cherokee and grey in colour. 

At midnight, a 2016-2018 Jeep Cherokee believed to be involved in this collision was observed driving east along Hwy 16 at the Parks Canada gate, west of Jasper, Alberta. 

Unfortunately, the license plate number is not visible and there is no front plate on the vehicle. Once the vehicle passed through the Parks Canada gate, it is unknown if the vehicle travelled south toward Banff or east toward Edmonton. Police checked video surveillance at gas stations in both Jasper and Hinton, Alberta, but the suspect vehicle was not seen on video.

It is believed that the suspect vehicle will have front end damage, possibly including a missing driver’s side headlight and damage to the front grill from the impact. 

If you have any information about this vehicle, who may have been driving it on July 4 and July 5, 2023, or where it may be, you are asked to call the Valemount RCMP at (250) 566-4466 or Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 222-8477.