Fort Providence RCMP are investigating after a third person in the space of three weeks reported being followed by a dark-coloured vehicle along Highway 3.
The first incident happened on August 4 between Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife, while the second took place on August 6 along the highway outside Fort Providence.
The most recent incident took place on Thursday, August 20.
In all three incidents, women reported driving past a vehicle parked alongside the highway, which flashed its lights at them as they passed before following them until they reached the nearest town or junction.
The latest case was reported to police the following day and an investigation was opened “but a suspect has not been identified yet,” said an RCMP spokesperson.
RCMP reiterated “nothing indicates there is a link between these incidents.”
“My partner and I were making a round trip to Edzo and were on our way home when we came upon the rest stop 40 km outside [Fort] Providence around 1:30am, with a black truck parked facing Yellowknife right at the entrance nearest Yellowknife,” said Aimee Chase, who was driving on August 20.
They passed the vehicle and it flashed its lights three or four times, Chase said in a Facebook message to Cabin Radio. When they were a couple of hundred yards past it, the vehicle pulled out and turned back toward Fort Providence, following close behind them even as they sped up, continuing to flash its lights periodically.
“I remember thinking being pulled over by the RCMP would actually be a relief and better than feeling uneasy with the person driving behind us so I cruised to get out of there,” Chase said.
“It was foggy in places and very dark, just an eerie night to begin with, and we were worried there’d be bison on the road forcing us to stop, or worse, we’d hit one driving faster than we should be at night.”
They turned down the Fort Providence access road and slowed down to see if the truck would follow them into the community.
“When it did, we kept on to town, but it seemed like when the truck realized we waited to identify it, it slowed to a crawl and then turned in at the campground. We could see the headlights through the trees at the campground so we sat by Snowshoe Inn for a while to see if they’d come out after they thought we’d gone home, but they never did.”
Later, Chase and her partner drove through the campsite but the truck was gone.
“With it getting very dark at night and it being the time of year when bison collisions start happening, the last thing we need are pranksters or anybody making people feel uneasy while driving late at night,” said Chase.
“You always kind-of wonder if the claims are true or not when things like this arise. There’s no doubt in my mind now that at the very least we have some pranksters who are getting a kick out of scaring people on the highway.
“I hope that’s all it is and nothing more sinister. Either way, I hope they don’t get someone killed creating fear and panic.”
Similar incident in 2019
In the August 6 incident, which happened in a similar location, the driver believed a black SUV had followed her and her partner across the Deh Cho Bridge. On August 10 she reported the incident to RCMP, who planned to request footage from cameras by the bridge to assist their investigation.
On August 25, RCMP said this first investigation remained ongoing and officers are still waiting for the territorial government to provide footage from the bridge cameras.
The three August incidents follow a similar incident along Highway 3 in late summer last year.
A woman driving from Rae to Yellowknife late one evening, who asked to remain anonymous, told Cabin Radio she ended up caught between two vehicles that both slowed down and occupied the middle of the road, trapping her and leaving her unable to pass.
“I was freaked out and I was panicking too, but I just waited until I had enough space to take off and pass,” she described.
The vehicle behind her didn’t subsequently pass the first vehicle, which made her think they were together.
“I’m a single woman and I was driving at night with the kids, and I was just being cautious. I was scared, too,” she said.
“I was like, ‘What am I going to do? I have no cellphone service.’”
When she got back to Yellowknife, she told her family about the incident but didn’t report it to the police because she thought it was an isolated incident.
She believe the first vehicle was a darker-coloured van and the vehicle behind her was a dark SUV.
The woman said she wishes there were lights at the pull-outs along the highway, so drivers could better see other vehicles during incidents like these.
“When you’re driving at night, it’s hard to tell what kind of vehicle it is. Your eyes play tricks on you, the colours could seem different,” she said.