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News Release

SIU Concludes Investigation into Collision Near Dutton

Case Number: 09-PVI-030

TORONTO (8 April, 2009) --- The Director of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Ian Scott has determined that an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officer did not commit any criminal offence in relation to the injuries sustained by four people during an incident that occurred west of London on February 10, 2009.

The SIU assigned four investigators and two forensic investigators to probe the circumstances of this occurrence.

At approximately 8:00 p.m. on February 10, 2009 an OPP officer from the Elgin Detachment was following a white Pontiac Sunfire with four occupants that had been reported to be driving erratically westbound on Highway 401 near Dutton. The Sunfire exited the highway onto Orford Road, followed by the OPP cruiser. The Sunfire continued on Orford Road, left the road at the T-intersection at Selton Line and came to rest at the north side of the ditch. The four occupants of the car were taken to hospital for treatment.

Director Scott said, “In my view, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officer committed a criminal offence in relation to the pursuit that happened west of London. While on the 401, the driver was acting in a menacing manner in relation to an armoured vehicle. The Sunfire was attempting to cut the armoured truck off. The driver of the armoured truck reported this activity to the OPP. The subject officer, who was also travelling westbound on the 401 but east of the involved vehicles, responded to the dispatch, and began to catch up. When he approached the armoured vehicle, he activated his emergency lights for several seconds. He began following the Sunfire, which increased its speed, and moved into the centre lane. In an apparent attempt to elude the approaching cruiser, the driver of the Sunfire suddenly cut in front of a tractor-trailer, and veered off the 401 north on to the Orford Road exit. The subject officer was forced to come to an almost complete stop in the passing lane in order to allow traffic to pass so that he could exit in the direction of the pursued vehicle. The Sunfire continued, but the driver failed to negotiate the T- intersection at Selton Line. The Sunfire left the road and went airborne over a water filled ditch. It came to rest on a residence’s front lawn. Three of the vehicle’s four occupants, Richard Coughlan, Rennie Lush and Sarah Thompson, suffered extensive injuries.”

Director Scott concluded, “In my view, there is no relationship between the extensive injuries received by the three occupants in the car and any act of criminal liability by the subject officer. Based upon the information received from his dispatch, the officer had the right to stop the Sunfire, and if it did not respond to an order to pull over, to engage in a pursuit. The Sunfire’s driver took the pre-emptive evasive step of exiting from the 401 in an attempt to elude the approaching cruiser driven by the subject officer. When the officer exited the 401, he was clearly involved in a pursuit, albeit a short one, of the car. The driver drove in such a reckless manner that an accident was an inevitability.”

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. 

Monica Hudon, monica.hudon@ontario.ca
SIU Communications/Service des communications, UES
Telephone/No de téléphone: 416-622-2342 or/ou 1-800-787-8529 extension 2342