The Special Investigations Unit has cleared the OPP of any wrongdoing in a pursuit that ended with a vehicle crashing on a Highway 115 exit ramp nearly a year ago.
The SIU reports that on Sept. 14, 2015, a Peterborough County OPP officer was conducting a speed enforcement on Highway 115 when he registered a truck driving at a speed of almost 150 km/h.
The officer followed the vehicle which was weaving in and out of traffic while accelerating. At County Road 10, the officer activated the lights and sirens. Both vehicles were up to 180km/h when the truck exited the highway at Tapley Quarter Line, sped through a stop sign and slammed into a ditch.
Two people – a female driver and a 27-year-old male passenger were extricated from a truck. The woman did not suffer any serious injuries while the man had rib and vertebrae fractures and was airlifted to St. Michael’s Hospital.
In his report SIU Acting Director Joseph Martino stated: “The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving under section 249 of the Criminal Code. Liability under the section is predicated on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances.
“I am satisfied that the evidence of the subject officer’s conduct falls well short of that standard. The female’s driving was clearly dangerous, particularly given her speed, and the officer was within his rights when he decided he would attempt to stop the pickup truck.
“Shortly into his engagement, after narrowing the gap between their vehicles, the officer turned on his vehicle’s lights and siren and radioed to indicate that he was now in active pursuit of the truck. Aside from the incredible speeds reached by the officer as he attempted to keep pace with the truck, there is no evidence that the officer’s driving endangered other traffic on the roadway. Nor is there evidence to suggest that the officer recklessly ‘pushed’ the driver and foreclosed any opportunity the driver might have had to safely bring the truck to a stop. Finally, it should be noted that the environmental conditions did not appreciably contribute to the risk of what was a relatively short-lived pursuit; though occurring at night, the incident took place over dry roads and clear conditions.
“On this record, I am satisfied that there are no reasonable grounds to proceed with charges against the subject officer.”
Seven investigators and one forensic investigator were assigned to this incident.
The SIU states the subject officer provided a copy of his duty notes but did not participate in an SIU interview, as was his legal right. Three witness officers and two civilian witnesses – the driver of the fleeing vehicle and her passenger – were interviewed. The Unit’s investigation also included collision reconstruction and analysis as well as police communications recordings of the pursuit.