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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Fatal Collision

Case Number: 08-OVD-096

TORONTO (13 August, 2008) --- James Cornish, the Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), has concluded that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that a Barrie Police Service (BPS) officer committed any criminal offence in regards to a fatal collision that claimed the life of 43-year-old Michael O'Keefe of Barrie in May of this year.

Four SIU investigators including two SIU forensic investigators and a collision reconstructionist probed the circumstances that led to the death.

The SIU investigation determined that on Wednesday May 28, 2008 at about 8:00 p.m. a BPS officer attempted to stop a 2007 Nissan Sentra on Essa Rd. near Anne St. in Barrie. The officer who was operating a marked BPS police car activated the car's emergency lights. The driver of the Nissan did not stop and accelerated away from the officer. The Nissan travelled along a number of streets, and the BPS officer lost sight of the Nissan on Huronia Rd.

As the Nissan went through the intersection of Huronia Road and Yonge Street the Nissan struck Mr. O'Keefe, who was crossing the road. The Nissan continued on Yonge Street and eventually collided with a utility pole at D'Ambrosio Drive. The driver of the Nissan fled the area on foot.

Mr. O'Keefe was transported to Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment. However, he succumbed to his injuries. The driver of the Nissan was later apprehended by members of the BPS and is presently before the courts on charges resulting from this incident.

Director Cornish said, "The officer activated his roof lights and attempted to pull the vehicle over. The vehicle sped off and numerous breaches of the rules of the road occurred over the span of the pursuit. The cruiser reached significant speeds, but the pursued vehicle was going faster and there was a gap between the Nissan and the police car. There is no suggestion that the cruiser ever made contact with the Nissan, nor can it be said that the officer operated his cruiser and unduly "pushed" the Nissan or otherwise prevented it from coming to a safe stop." Director Cornish added, "Criminal liability in these cases is premised on a finding that the conduct of the officer amounted to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. On my assessment of the evidence, given the officer's decision to start and continue the pursuit, the fact that the officer was for most of the pursuit well back of the Nissan and the overall manner in which the pursuit was conducted, I am satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the criminal standard was breached."

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. 

SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342