SIU Concludes Investigation into Serious Injury in Marathon, Ontario
Case Number: 08-PVI-094
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"Following my review of the evidence, I am of the view that there are no reasonable grounds to support a charge of dangerous driving against the subject officer," concluded SIU Director James Cornish. "The constable's conduct in the course of the brief pursuit was not a marked departure from the standard of care that any reasonable person would have exercised in these circumstances."
At approximately 4 p.m. on May 28, 2008, the OPP officer with the Marathon detachment was patrolling eastbound on Highway 17 of the Trans-Canada Highway when he noticed a Pontiac Sunfire travelling in the opposite direction at speeds ranging from 110 - 150 kilometres an hour through a construction zone. The officer turned his cruiser around, activated the emergency roof lights and attempted to follow and stop the speeding car before it reached an area of the construction zone where workers were engaged in roadwork about nine kilometers east of Marathon near the Pic River Bridge.
As soon as the driver of the car saw the officer following him, he increased his speed and began swerving in and out of the traffic in front of him in an effort to evade the officer. When the driver entered the active area of construction, he lost control of his vehicle, went off onto the shoulder of the highway, struck the cable guardrails and swerved back onto the highway. The construction workers who saw this, jumped out of the way; however, one of them was struck by the car. The vehicle did not remain at the scene of the collision. OPP officers found the vehicle abandoned a short distance away and later arrested and charged a man.
The construction flagman, 58-year-old David Murr of Hanover, sustained two broken legs, a fractured left hip, two fractured ankles and a fractured foot.
"The pursuit was very brief, lasting less than a minute, " added Mr. Cornish. "I note, moreover, that there is no indication that the subject officer's driving was itself a danger to the public. To the contrary, it appears the use by the officer of his emergency lights and siren served to warn several of the construction workers up ahead of the coming peril, allowing them to take evasive action."
Five SIU field investigators and one forensic investigator were assigned to the case in which one subject officer and seven witness officers were designated; eight civilians were also interviewed. The SIU reviewed OPP communications tapes, and reports from the OPP's Traffic Collision Reconstructionist and the Ministry of Labour's Occupational Health and Safety Branch during the investigation.
The SIU is an arm’s length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault. Under the Police Services Act, the Director of the SIU must
- consider whether an officer has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation
- depending on the evidence, lay a criminal charge against the officer if appropriate or close the file without any charges being laid
- report the results of any investigations to the Attorney General.