No charges for OPP officer that hit snowmobiler with cruiser: SIU
SUDBURY -- The province's Special Investigation Unit says there are no grounds to proceed with charges against the police officer in a crash between a snowmobile and OPP cruiser in Wawa last year.
Police say the collision happened around 4:25 p.m. on April 3, 2019, on Highway 101, north of Sault Ste. Marie, when a marked OPP cruiser was on its way to a reported theft at a Wawa shop, considered a low-priority call. They say the cruiser broadsided the snowmobile as the machine was crossing the highway.
In the SIU Director's report of the case, speed was determined to be one of the factors in the crash. The OPP GPS data shows the officer responsible for the crash was travelling at 142 km/h just one kilometre from the scene when the posted speed limit is 90 km/h. The officer was also recorded going 137 km/h when the speed limit drops to 50 km/h.
The crash retrieval data says the cruiser was going 71 km/h at the point of impact.
However, SIU Director Joseph Martino says police officers engaged in the execution of duties are exempt from speed limits as per the Highway Traffic Act.
Officials say the 63-year-old male snowmobile driver was taken to hospital and treated for multiple fractures to his left leg and was eventually transferred to Sault Ste. Marie for surgery.
"The Complainant appears to have done little, if anything, wrong in relation to the accident, and I do not believe he saw the (subject officers') cruiser before entering the roadway," said Martino.
Although Martino says he has no doubt that the OPP officer was driving dangerously in the moments before the crash, and that it was largely responsible for what happened, but believes the evidence falls just short of justifying criminal charges against the officer.
"While one may legitimately criticize the (subject officer) for the manner in which he operated his police cruiser in the moments leading to its collision with the Complainant and his snowmobile, I am unable to reasonably conclude that the officer’s conduct was so substandard as to amount to a marked deviation from a reasonable level of care. Accordingly, there are no grounds for proceeding with charges in this case and the file is therefore closed," said Martino in his report on the incident.
The SIU is a civilian law enforcement agency that investigates incidents where there is a serious injury, sexual assault or death in cases involving the police.