The kindness of strangers: Compassionate cop helps family driving without insurance

CBC Radio One’s The Early Edition is asking listeners to share their stories of kindness from strangers for a series that runs on Thursday mornings.

This week’s story begins when Ruth and David Ward’s family holiday in the 1990s was almost ruined before it had even started.

Dear stranger,

We were on our way to Salt Spring Island for a little holiday and driving to Horseshoe Bay to catch a ferry when you pulled us over.

We’d noticed your police cruiser from behind but, keeping within the speed limit, we inched pass you. As soon as the flashing lights went on, we regretted trying to pass.

At first, we were confused. We hadn’t been speeding.

We rolled down the window as you walked up.

“Did you realize that you’re driving without valid insurance and without valid plates?” you said.

No, we hadn’t realized, and were shocked.

We’d recently moved to B.C. from Ontario, where the insurance process and expiration rules are slightly different. We hadn’t been in B.C. very long and had missed the notification about our insurance expiring.

We had been driving without insurance for two months and were facing a hefty ticket and probably an impounded vehicle. We’d have to call a tow truck, we figured, and delay our weekend holiday plans.

Everyone in the car except David, in the driver’s seat, was crying at this point — our young boys sitting in the back followed suit when their mother Ruth started tearing up as we tried to explain.

You listened to our story very kindly and, rather than throwing the book at us, decided to help us.

You took David to a nearby ICBC insurance agency in the back of your cruiser so he could buy insurance, and then sent us on our way.

A current photo of the Ward family. (Submitted by Ruth Ward)

I remember later telling this story to an insurance adjuster who was dumbfounded and said he’d never heard of a police officer reacting so leniently to driving without insurance. Mistake or not, even just having the proof-of-purchase sticker in a glove compartment and not stuck on the licence plate can be an issue.

What you did was just so profoundly kind. People today seem to be very worried about litigation or repercussions of helping someone. It was incredible that you reacted in such a benevolent way.

We never really got to thank you properly. We didn’t try to contact you through the West Vancouver Police Department for fear of getting you in trouble.

It was an act of real compassion and kindness and we’ve talked about that day a lot over the past 25 years. Not everyone has a story like this.

Yours,

Ruth and David Ward

If you have a story about the kindness of strangers, email The Early Edition at earlyed@cbc.ca.



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