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Woman’s serious head injury not the fault of Sudbury police, investigation concludes

The pickup driver blew through a red light at the intersection of Martindale Road and Regent, striking the woman’s minivan on the passenger’s side. The pickup truck continued a distance northwest and struck another vehicle stopped facing southbound on Regent Street just north of the intersection. (Greater Sudbury Police drone photo) The pickup driver blew through a red light at the intersection of Martindale Road and Regent, striking the woman’s minivan on the passenger’s side. The pickup truck continued a distance northwest and struck another vehicle stopped facing southbound on Regent Street just north of the intersection. (Greater Sudbury Police drone photo)
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Sudbury police were not responsible for serious head injury sustained by woman whose vehicle was struck by an impaired driver who went through a red light.

That’s the conclusion of the Special Investigations Unit, who looked into the case because the impaired driver was fleeing police when he injured the woman on Feb. 21 of this year around 8:42 p.m.

Under the law, police must take reasonable caution to ensure public safety when pursuing suspects. In this case, police broke off the pursuit before the impaired driver struck the woman’s minivan.

According to the incident narrative provided by the SIU, the Sudbury police officer was driving south on Regent Street when a pickup drove past him travelling around 90 km/h.

"This exceeded the 60 km/h speed limit and the officer decided to pull the vehicle over for a speeding infraction," the SIU said in a news release.

"The (officer) activated his emergency lights and siren and executed a U-turn, after which he accelerated to catch up to the pickup."

The police vehicle accelerated to 100 km/h to try and catch the pickup driver, but when he realized the driver was accelerating to get away, the police officer broke off the pursuit, turned off his emergency lights and slowed down, continuing north on Regent.

"Shortly thereafter, the officer observed dust up ahead in the area of Regent Street and Martindale Road/Walford Roads," the SIU said.

According to video footage taken from nearby businesses, the pickup driver blew through a red light at the intersection of Martindale Road and Regent, striking the woman’s minivan on the passenger’s side.

"The pickup truck continued a distance northwest and struck another vehicle stopped facing southbound on Regent Street just north of the intersection," the SIU said.

Brain bleed, fractured finger

At first, it appeared the woman was not seriously injured. But she was later diagnosed with a brain bleed, a concussion and a fractured index finger.

"The driver was released on an undertaking and refused any medical treatment,” the SIU said. “He did not acknowledge any injuries as a result of the collision."

In its investigation, the SIU had to determine whether there was evidence that police conduct in pursuing the pickup was reckless enough to warrant charges.

"In my view, there was not," Martino wrote in his decision.

Police had the right to pursue someone for speeding.

"I am also satisfied that the (officer) comported himself with due care and regard for public safety throughout his brief engagement with (the pickup driver)," Martino wrote.

“While the officer initially accelerated to about 100 km/h, this was done over a relatively short distance and with the cruiser’s emergency equipment activated, mitigating the risk to third-party traffic in the area. As soon as it became clear that the pick-up truck was not going to stop, the (officer), wisely, in my view, slowed to between 40 and 50 km/h while continuing northbound.”

Read the full decision here.

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