Watchdog rebukes OPP officer, but no charges in fatal Smiths Falls crashOntario’s Special Investigations Unit won’t charge an Ontario Provincial Police officer in connection with a 2016 crash near Smiths Falls that killed an 18-year-old man.
However, the watchdog agency, in a report released Tuesday, did criticize the officer for claiming he wasn’t chasing the suspect, even though evidence showed the officer was following the suspect’s car down Kitley Line 2 at more than 160 km/h.
The incident began at 8:14 p.m. on May 19, 2016 when the officer was southbound on County Road 17 and clocked an oncoming Hyundai travelling at 101 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. The officer did a U-turn and began to follow and watched the Hyundai turn left on Kitley Line 2, about eight kilometres southeast of Smiths Falls. Investigators later determined the suspect was driving more than 170 km/h when he lost control of his car on the gravel road and it rolled into a field, striking a tree.
The driver was ejected through the car’s sunroof and died on his way to hospital. His 16-year-old female passenger was not seriously hurt. Neither appeared to have been wearing seatbelts.
The OPP officer never reported a pursuit over the radio and told his dispatcher that he hadn’t tried to stop the Hyundai.
In his report, SIU director Tony Loparco was critical of the actions of the subject officer (SO), particularly for driving so fast after what was essentially a speeder.
“I cannot fathom any reasonable person believing that issuing a speeding ticket would have outweighed the risk to public safety of continuing to pursue a motor vehicle at the speeds which the SO did,” Loparco wrote.
Loparco said he had “grave concerns” that what the officer said didn’t match what civilian witnesses described about the pursuit.
Telling the dispatcher, “‘I am not attempting to stop’ are not words that transform what is obviously a pursuit into something else,” Loparco wrote, adding that the officer’s failing to do so was potentially a violation of the province’s police pursuit laws.
“Although the SO claimed that he never attempted to stop the vehicle, I can see no reason to chase a vehicle at 165 km/h for any other purpose than to attempt to stop it,” Loparco wrote.
Nevertheless, the SIU found that since the road conditions were good and traffic was light, the officer’s actions didn’t threaten public safety. Just 96 seconds passed from the time the officer made the U-turn until the crash happened, three kilometres away from where the officer turned around.
“Ultimately, however, I find that the Complainant unfortunately chose to try to outrun police and in doing so, he fled at a dangerous rate of speed with no regard for other people using the highway or for his own passenger, who exhorted him on numerous occasions to slow down,” Loparco wrote.
Once the SIU has finished its involvement in the case, the OPP will begin its own internal review of the officer’s actions and OPP policies, said Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne.http://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-new ... alls-crash