Down a dark road

·6 min read

WEST COAST – One of the worst fears for a parent is the potential that something terrible might happen to their child, and one mother on the West Coast believes her son's story could’ve ended a lot differently after a recent harrowing experience. On Sunday night, August 14, around 9:30 p.m., Kiona McKay Parsons’ 14-year-old son was on his way to his home in Stephenville Crossing when he was approached by a strange vehicle.

“We live on that street. Locals call it Seal Cove. Where we live is not quite where the old college was and when you’re coming up in that area, it’s a very dark stretch. There’s not a lot of streetlights there and the ones that are there aren’t very bright. They are pretty dull, and we live at the top of a crest of a hill, and he was coming up the hill on our side of the street, the left hand side when coming from the direction of Stephenville going toward the Crossing, on the opposite side as traffic, when he was approached,” said McKay Parsons.

The vehicle was driven by a man who claimed he was looking for directions.

“He was walking toward our home when the van stopped and the man asked him, ‘Do you know where Karl’s Canteen is?’ Of course, being a Newfoundlander, he (her son) said ‘Yes, it’s just down the street. Keep going straight. You don’t need to make any turns,’ and the man said, ‘You should get in the car and show me where.’ Now, my son was smart enough to say no and tell him again it was just down the street,” said McKay Parsons.

This didn’t sit well with the man in the vehicle, who got more aggressive.

“He said, ‘I said get in the f-ing van,’ and my son said, ‘No, you f- off,’ and he started running home. Now, he was only five doors down, but because it was so dark, you could not see. In the meantime, my see the van speeding off and saw our son coming as he was braking in the light,” said McKay Parsons.

Her husband mentioned that the vehicle was not one he had seen around, and that it was pure black, like a minivan done up to be dark.

When her son got in the door, she said he was visibly shaken when he explained that the man attempted to get him into his van.

“I was in complete shock to be completely honest with you. It was unreal. Nobody believes, in a little town like this, that this stuff is going to happen,” said McKay Parsons. “The look on his face. He was in complete shock. I don’t think he was scared as such. He was just so shocked that someone tried to get him in the van. To him it was weird that they were even asking for Karl’s, which was closed for the night, so I guess that sparked his interest.”

McKay Parsons said her son did everything right in that situation.

“He made a beeline for home, took out his phone and took a picture right away. That deters them sometimes too because you could be calling the cops. Everything he did was what he should’ve done.”

She said the world kids are growing up in now is not the same as the one she grew up in years ago.

“That world doesn’t exist anymore. When we were that age, we went on those roads at that time of the night a lot. It’s scary, and this is a child that didn’t go out after dark by himself until about a month and a half ago,” said McKay Parsons. “He’s a little bit shook up. I’ve got to be honest, and I don’t think he even understood the magnitude of how scary things could’ve been, how things could’ve changed.”

With the significance of the internet in the world today, McKay Parsons said kids are exposed to everything from a very young age.

“To each their own and how they regulate how their kids are on social media and stuff like that, but it’s not a world we always know how to work, because I don’t. I am flabbergasted at all of this and how it plays out here in Newfoundland, in Stephenville Crossing, a little town of 5,500 people or something.”

McKay Parsons said, had it been someone more willing to approach the vehicle, things could have been so much worse.

“I’m a very friendly person in my own way and I know a lot of people are like that, and they don’t think that is going to happen. How many kids probably would’ve approached that van? That man could’ve had a gun. He could’ve had a taser. He could’ve had anything. And to me it seems, those type of people, and I’m talking about those with that darkness now, would wait for somebody to be in a dark area like that where they are more vulnerable.”

When she asked her son what the man looked like, he said he didn’t get a good look at him because it was such a dark night, but that even though he couldn’t see the details of his face, it seemed like he had a darker complexion.

“He said his voice was very breathy. He said he could tell he was an older man. He wasn’t young, by the sound of his voice,” said McKay Parsons.

Her son posted the photo he took to his Snapchat, and McKay Parsons set a follow up meeting with the RCMP.

“I know this is a small community, but I’m after reading a few stories – not just from around here, but from across the island – of strangers lurking and stuff like that. It was something we never used to have to worry about here in Newfoundland. That’s why I wanted to put it out there. The world is not what it was once upon a time, and the world now, with everything open, who knows who could be around.”

The Bay St. George RCMP announced on Wednesday, Aug. 17 that they are investigating the incident and are asking anyone who may have had a similar experience or witnessed suspicious activity involving a black mini van, to contact them at 709-643-2118 or, to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers: #SayItHere 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), visit www.nlcrimestoppers.com or use the P3Tips app.

Jaymie White, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wreckhouse Weekly News