WINDSOR – The man behind the wheel of a transport truck that crashed into traffic stopped for construction on Highway 101 near Falmouth in 2013 has been found guilty of driving dangerously.
On Nov. 27, Mohammad Younus, 61, of Hamilton, was convicted of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The two charges stem from a fatal car crash that occurred on July 9, 2013.
“Having considered all of the evidence, I'm satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Younus' driving conduct was objectively dangerous to the public,” said Judge Claudine MacDonald as she presented a summarized version of her ruling.
MacDonald said the evidence was clear: Younus was traveling at a speed of 104.7 kilometres per hour in a 90 zone. Leading up to the accident, there were signs indicating construction was taking place, and the driving conditions were good.
“The tractor trailer brakes were not applied until approximately two seconds before the collision occurred,” she noted.
The minivan that received the brunt force of the impact was at the end of the line of stopped traffic. In the van was the driver, Renee Dawson, her two children, and a neighbour's child – five-year-old Evan Servaes.
During the collision, Servaes was thrown from the vehicle. He died from his injuries in the hospital the next day, which happened to be his sixth birthday. One of Dawson's children, a seven-year-old girl, suffered a Grade 3 concussion and had two fractures in the eye orbital on her right hand side plus a bone chip fracture in her left cheek.
“Was it Mr. Younus' failure to foresee the risk and take steps to avoid it, if possible, a marked departure from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person in his circumstances?” asked the judge while reading her decision.
“Mr. Younus, driving a tractor trailer, was aware that his stopping distance would be longer. Although he saw the construction signs, he did not decelerate as he approached the traffic queue.”
She said Younus had an unobstructed view of about 400 metres leading up to the stopped traffic.
“Mr. Younus told Const. Davis that the vehicle in front of him slammed on the brakes, causing him to have to do likewise. He's mistaken on this,” said MacDonald. “This simply does not make sense when one considers all of the evidence, which includes the fact that the caravan was the last vehicle in the traffic queue.”
The judge said that case law indicates a momentary lapse of attention does not prove criminal culpability.
“Having considered the evidence, I am satisfied that Mr. Younus' driving was more than a momentary lapse of attention,” she said.
MacDonald said his failure to foresee the risk and take steps to avoid an accident was a “marked departure from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person” given the circumstances.
Younus will return to Windsor provincial court Feb. 16, 2016 for sentencing. At that time, the court will also deal with the summary offence ticket that alleges Younus altered his logbooks.
Following the verdict, defence lawyer Chris Manning said he couldn't say much prior to the sentencing. However, when asked how Younus was feeling following the ruling, he said: “I think he's disappointed, as one might expect, but I believe he's also accepting of it at this time.”