SIU Director’s Report - Case # 22-PVI-021
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Mandate of the SIU
Under the SIU Act, the Director of the SIU must determine based on the evidence gathered in an investigation whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a criminal offence was committed. If such grounds exist, the Director has the authority to lay a criminal charge against the official. Alternatively, in cases where no reasonable grounds exist, the Director cannot lay charges. Where no charges are laid, a report of the investigation is prepared and released publicly, except in the case of reports dealing with allegations of sexual assault, in which case the SIU Director may consult with the affected person and exercise a discretion to not publicly release the report having regard to the affected person’s privacy interests.
Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019Pursuant to section 34, certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- The name of, and any information identifying, a subject official, witness official, civilian witness or affected person.
- Information that may result in the identity of a person who reported that they were sexually assaulted being revealed in connection with the sexual assault.
- Information that, in the opinion of the SIU Director, could lead to a risk of serious harm to a person.
- Information that discloses investigative techniques or procedures.
- Information, the release of which is prohibited or restricted by law.
- Information in which a person’s privacy interest in not having the information published clearly outweighs the public interest in having the information published.
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ActPursuant to section14 (i.e., law enforcement), certain information may not be included in this report. This information may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Confidential investigative techniques and procedures used by law enforcement agencies; and
- Information that could reasonably be expected to interfere with a law enforcement matter or an investigation undertaken with a view to a law enforcement proceeding.
- The names of persons, including civilian witnesses, and subject and witness officials;
- Location information;
- Witness statements and evidence gathered in the course of the investigation provided to the SIU in confidence; and
- Other identifiers which are likely to reveal personal information about individuals involved in the investigation.
Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004Pursuant to this legislation, any information related to the personal health of identifiable individuals is not included.
Other proceedings, processes, and investigationsInformation may also have been excluded from this report because its release could undermine the integrity of other proceedings involving the same incident, such as criminal proceedings, coroner’s inquests, other public proceedings and/or other law enforcement investigations.
A person sustains a “serious injury” for purposes of the SIU’s jurisdiction if they: sustain an injury as a result of which they are admitted to hospital; suffer a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra; suffer burns to a significant proportion of their body; lose any portion of their body; or, as a result of an injury, experience a loss of vision or hearing.
In addition, a “serious injury” means any other injury sustained by a person that is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature.
This report relates to the SIU’s investigation into the serious injuries a 21-year-old man (the “Complainant”) suffered.
Notification of the SIUOn January 22, 2022, at 5:02 a.m., the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) contacted the SIU with the following information.
At about 2:40 a.m. that morning, four OPP officers were conducting a RIDE  check in Belwood when a snowmobile was observed travelling across Belwood Lake at a high rate of speed and believed to go into an embankment near Side Road 10. Two OPP officers went to check on the snowmobile at 2:44 a.m. The snowmobile was spotted along Side Road 10. Once the emergency lighting on the cruiser was activated, the snowmobile left the area. The OPP cruiser stopped, after which it was permitted to resume its travel four minutes later. The officers came across the snowmobile in a ditch. Its operator had sustained a closed-head injury.
The driver, the Complainant, was taken to Groves Memorial Hospital in Fergus and then to Hamilton General Hospital due to the gravity of his injuries.
The TeamDate and time team dispatched: 01/22/2022 at 7:10 a.m.
Date and time SIU arrived on scene: 01/22/2022 at 7:26 a.m.
Number of SIU Investigators assigned: 2
Number of SIU Forensic Investigators assigned: 1
Number of SIU Collision Reconstructionists Assigned: 1
Affected Person (aka “Complainant”):21-year-old male; not interviewed due to medical condition
Civilian Witnesses (CW)CW #1 Interviewed
CW #2 Not interviewed (next-of-kin)
The civilian witness was interviewed on January 22, 2022.
Subject Officials (SO)SO #1 Declined interview and to provide notes, as is the subject official’s legal right
SO #2 Interviewed, but declined to submit notes, as is the subject official’s legal right.
The subject official was interviewed on February 3, 2022.
Witness Officials (WO)WO #1 Interviewed
WO #2 Interviewed
WO #3 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #4 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
WO #5 Not interviewed, but notes received and reviewed
The witness officials were interviewed on January 28, 2022.
The SceneOn January 22, 2022, at 8:43 a.m., a SIU forensic investigator arrived at the scene of the incident on Side Road 10 in Belwood. There was a Yamaha snowmobile in the ditch on the south side of the road next to a broken hydro pole. There were track marks in the snow from the roadway to the position of the pole and snowmobile.
The SIU forensic investigator examined the OPP cruiser at the scene and the snowmobile, and found no evidence of contact between the two vehicles.
The distance from the slope where the Complainant had been stuck to the collision with the hydro pole was approximately 700 metres.
A route video was completed.
Figure 1 - The snowmobile after it struck and broke the hydro pole in half
Global Positioning System (GPS) Data from SO #2 and SO #1’s CruiserOn January 26, 2022, the OPP provided the SIU with GPS data associated with the subject officials’ cruiser for the relevant time period. The following is a summary of the pertinent data.
Between 2:00 to 2:41 a.m., the OPP vehicle was stationary on Wellington Road 26, on the east side of the road, north of the bridge over the Grand River.
At 2:41 a.m., the police vehicle (operated by SO #2) travelled southbound on Wellington Road 26, over the bridge and to Side Road 10.
The maximum recorded speed was 61 km/h.
SO #2 turned left to eastbound Side Road 10. SO #2 travelled eastbound for about 20 seconds.
At 2:42 a.m. (about 20 seconds after he turned onto Side Road 10), SO #2 stopped on Side Road 10. He was about 220 metres east of Wellington Road 26.
SO #2 remained stationary for about 30 seconds and then made his way closer to the intersection of Wellington Road 26 and Side Road 10, remaining there for about four-and-half minutes.
SO #2 then travelled eastbound on Side Road 10 for about two minutes and three seconds, towards the scene where the Complainant’s snowmobile had collided with the hydro pole.
The distance from where SO #2 had originally stopped after the snowmobile fled (220 metres east of Wellington Road 26), to the collision scene was about 480 metres. Based on the distance and the topography of Side Road 10, it is doubtful that SO #2 would have been able to see the snowmobile as it collided with the hydro pole.
Video/Audio/Photographic Evidence 
Communications RecordingsOn January 25, 2022, the SIU received the OPP communications recordings. The following is a summary of the recordings.
At 2:56 a.m., the acting sergeant, WO #2, stated, “Guys stop.” She broadcast that she wanted a ‘fail to stop’ report started. The officer explained to the Provincial Communications Centre (PCC) that they were on Side Road 10 and that a snowmobile had fled from an OPP cruiser after it activated its emergency lighting, but the OPP officers stopped immediately.
SO #2 broadcast his mileage, and that he thought the snowmobile was yellow.
WO #2 advised that a snowmobile had become stuck in a ditch and the OPP officers had gone to check on it.
About four-and-a-half minutes later, the PCC gave permission to resume patrolling.
The next broadcast was WO #2 requesting Emergency Medical Services on Side Road 10, about a kilometre from Wellington Road 26. She reported the Complainant had struck a pole, and that he was breathing but unconscious.
Materials Obtained from Police ServiceUpon request, the SIU received the following materials from the OPP between January 24, 2022 and February 7, 2022:
- Scene photographs and video;
- Computer-assisted Dispatch Report;
- Communications recordings;
- General Occurrence Report;
- Log-on Sheet;
- Motor Vehicle Collision Report;
- Notes-WO #5;
- Notes-WO #4;
- GPS Data;
- Notes-WO #1;
- Notes-WO #2; and
- Notes-WO #3.
In the early morning hours of January 22, 2022, the Complainant and CW #1 were out snowmobiling. In the same vicinity was an OPP RIDE checkpoint – stationed north of a bridge over the Grand River on Wellington Road 26. The Complainant’s snowmobile became stuck on an incline towards Side Road 10. CW #1 assisted in moving the snowmobile off the slope onto the roadway. By this time, an OPP cruiser was making its way to their location.
The cruiser was operated by SO #2. SO #1 occupied the front passenger seat. Upon hearing the sound of a snowmobile engine revving from their location at the RIDE checkpoint, their acting sergeant – WO #2 – had sent them to check on what was happening. Once on Side Road 10, SO #2 activated his emergency lights and watched as the Complainant accelerated away from his cruiser eastbound on the roadway.
The Complainant continued at speed on Side Road 10, ultimately losing control of his snowmobile and striking (and breaking) a hydro pole. He suffered serious head injuries in the collision.
SO #2 and SO #1, after momentarily chasing after the snowmobile as it fled from them, quickly decelerated and disengaged on the instructions of WO #2.
Several minutes later, after receiving permission to resume their patrol, the officers came across the site of the collision. SO #2 remained with an unconscious Complainant and kept him warm with thermal blankets.
Paramedics and firefighters arrived on the scene, and tended to the Complainant.
Section 320.13 (1) Criminal Code – Dangerous operation causing bodily harm
Analysis and Director's Decision
The offence that arises for consideration is dangerous driving causing bodily harm contrary to section 320.13(2) of the Criminal Code. The offence is premised, in part, on conduct that amounts to a marked departure from the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the circumstances. In the instant case, the issue is whether there was any want of care in the manner in which the officers engaged with the Complainant in their cruiser, sufficiently egregious to attract criminal sanction, in the course of the events that culminated in the collision. In my view, there was not.
The officers were in the lawful execution of their duties as they made their way across the Wellington Road 26 bridge to check on the status of the Complainant and his snowmobile. The Complainant was indeed in need of assistance – his snowmobile had become stuck on a slope leading from the river’s shore to Side Road 10.
Thereafter, there is nothing in the evidence to suggest that the officers failed to comport themselves with due care and regard for the Complainant’s safety. Though they briefly pursued the Complainant for a matter of seconds when he fled from them, SO #2 quickly disengaged on the instructions of WO #2. That decision was a reasonable one given OPP policy that prohibits the pursuit of snowmobiles in light of the relative vulnerability of the operator of such vehicles. During those few seconds, there is no evidence that the cruiser was a danger on the roadway, including with respect to its speed, which topped out at about 61 km/h.
For the foregoing reasons, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that the subject officials transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law. Though given every opportunity to adjust his driving after the cruiser had terminated pursuit, the Complainant continued at pace and crashed his snowmobile. He and he alone is responsible for the collision and his injuries. The file is closed.
Date: May 20, 2022
Electronically approved by
Special Investigations Unit
- 1) ‘Reduce Impaired Driving Everywhere’. [Back to text]
- 2) The following records contain sensitive personal information and are not being released pursuant to section 34(2) of the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019. The material portions of the records are summarized below. [Back to text]
The signed English original report is authoritative, and any discrepancy between that report and the French and English online versions should be resolved in favour of the original English report.