Two women say they’re still rattled after a motorist drove at them head-on on Highway 7 on the long weekend and tried to run them off the road twice.
Birdeen Malchuk and her daughter, Kim Kennedy, were on their way to her mom’s old house in Arborg around 1:20 a.m. Saturday when another vehicle appeared on the deserted highway.
Neither woman recognized the car or its driver, and say they are traumatized by the scary encounter.
"The flashbacks are just killing me and I’m a pretty tough broad," Malchuk said, who at 76 figures she’s driven that stretch of highway to her mother’s house from her own home in Brandon "500 times."
Knowing the two-lane highway like the back of her hand is the only thing that kept her on the road, she said.
"I’m sure it was random. He wouldn’t have known us, but how do you know? This guy is a crazy man and he’s out there. He could try it again," Malchuk said.
Both women recalled the 10- to 15-minute episode as a whirl of burning rubber, blue smoke and sheer terror.
Kennedy said she called 911 after the first pass when the motorist overtook them and squealed around on the highway only to drive at them head-on.
"Someone connected me to some RCMP detachment, and they wanted to know where we were," she recalled.
Other than their location — about three to six kilometres north of Teulon — Kennedy said she recalled seeing a wall of blue smoke and a pair of glaring headlights amid the smell of burning rubber. The car appeared to be a light-coloured older model.
"He came up behind us on the right side of the road, to begin with," Kennedy said. "And passed us, going about 140 kilometres an hour. Then about two miles up the road, he turned around, burnt rubber doing that and came flying by us again.
"Then he turned around again and came up behind us on the passenger side (on the shoulder). Again. And he turned around and came straight at us," she said. "By the time he drove past, came back, drove past us again and back at us, it must have been 10 to 15 minutes," Kennedy said. "When he came back at us on the passenger side, he, like, barely touched my door with his car."
Neither woman was hurt.
They returned to the stretch of highway in daylight the next day, snapping photos of burnt rubber marks on the highway and half-inch strip of shredded tire left behind to mark the frightening episode.
Neither woman made a report in person to RCMP.
"911, they said they sent a memo out to the RCMP detachments about it," Malchuk said.
RCMP confirmed the episode on Wednesday by email.
The complaint involved an older white car, speeding northbound on Highway 7 and passing her, followed by the vehicle turning around and driving straight at her, RCMP Sgt. Paul Manaigre said.
RCMP had no details on the second head-on pass that the women recounted in their 911 call.
Without a licence plate number, RCMP don’t expect to track down the driver. But Manaigre indicated Malchuk reacted with the kind of defensive moves they recommend to drivers.
"Drivers are encouraged to use any means necessary to keep themselves safe if they encounter a dangerous driving vehicle.
"Efforts should be made to pull over to the side of the road and come to a complete stop and report the incident immediately to the police," Manaigre said.
"If there are concerns that the vehicle may be following you, call the police immediately and do not stop until such time as you are comfortable in doing so, or continue driving to your nearest police station. Obtain as much information as you can about the suspect vehicle without putting yourself at risk."
Malchuk said she’s still so shaken she can’t remember how many times the motorist buzzed the pair. It took all her concentration to maintain her focus on staying on the road, at the same time she was veering away from the motorist.
"We got hysterical. He was turning around, and I saw blue smoke, and we could hear the motor revving like a race car engine. My daughter says he did this twice, but I was so terrified, you’ll have to ask her. I just know he came at us head-on and I screamed, ‘Call 911.’
"I had to keep my hands on the wheel. I saw him coming. And I cranked the wheel to the right. I barely got my car out of the way. He missed us by inches," Malchuk said.
Kennedy said she counted four passes, each more terrifying than the last.
"It was purposely done," she said.
"I don’t think he wanted to hurt himself, but I think he was trying to get us to lose control."