Humbolt Broncos – Truth Is An Annoying Little Mosquito

It has been over six years since the tragic death of 16 persons, and many injured, on a bus carrying the Humbolt Broncos hockey team in the Canadian Province of Saskatchewan. Now the incident has been pushed into the back pages of history, except for the infrequent mentions of the truck driver, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who reportedly caused the disaster. The most recent news is that Sindu has been ordered deported to India. And many believe that this wicked, evil person deserves this additional punishment.

In our public mask no one has ever driven through a red traffic signal, mistaken the presence of a stop sign, or inadvertently pressed on a gas pedal when attempting to brake. In many of these non-existent instances no other vehicle or pedestrian is present and nothing of substance is the consequence. And we also strongly believe that there is a Santa Claus. So it is comforting to believe that only one entity, Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, was the sole culprit in the Broncos tragedy.

The fact that the official police reports into the Broncos collision have never been publicly revealed appears to be a minor triviality. After all, numerous news media were present shortly after the crash and numerous reports were filed about Sidhu’s trial and final sentencing. How could anyone be misled about what actually transpired and who was at fault when so many news people were reporting on the story?

Yet some news media reported additional facts. Many years before the Broncos tragedy, six persons were killed at the same intersection and the government of Saskatchewan has the obligation to examine the site for its safety. An area of trees was present at the south-east quadrant of the intersection and anyone with the simplest understanding of road safety would have recognized that this could be a visibility problem for drivers approaching from the east and south, exactly like the travel directions of the Broncos bus and Sidhu’s heavily laden truck train.

However not everyone would have the additional knowledge that, in rural Saskatchewan, on smoothly paved highways, where urban traffic is minimal, vehicles travelling straight through on a flat road could exceed the speed limit. Such data would only be available to the government.

And similarly, few would have the knowledge that, a fully-laden truck, with an additionally long trailer attached to it, would require an exceptionally long time to clear a cross road. If such a truck came to a full stop at a busy cross road it would require the driver to look a very long distance along the cross road to evaluate whether his truck could make it across the road in safety. But human visual capability is not limitless. Humans are simply incapable of detecting the approach speed of vehicles if those vehicles are well beyond 200 metres. So often a truck driver must estimate by considering the distance of the approaching vehicle rather than its speed, to determine whether a crossing is safely possible. A frequent alternative is that such drivers do not come to a complete stop at a stop sign because it would take too long to gain speed and too long to clear the intersection. So such drivers approach the intersection and make a quick glance along the cross road and continue without stopping so they can clear the intersection in a quicker time. But this is often done because many intersections have considerable visibility on approach to a cross road. The truck driver can begin looking along the cross road, and see a substantial part of it, before coming to a stop sign.

But at the rural intersection of the Broncos crash site the visibility was limited by the previously noted trees. This danger was two-fold. Not only did the trees prevent Sindu from seeing the Broncos bus approaching from his left, but the trees also prevented the bus driver from seeing the approach of the Sindu truck to its stop sign. If a sufficient amount of visibility was made available, the bus driver could have seen the substantial approach speed of the Sindu truck and could have had the opportunity to brake and likely avoid the collision. If the Saskatchewan Department of Transportation was performing its role properly it should have been aware of these facts even through they might not be apparent to the average user of the intersection. To what degree was this additional problem discussed at Sindu’s trial? While Gorski Consulting followed the various news reports, we could not locate any information about what was discussed on this issue at Sindu’s trial.

The news media reported further “facts” from the trial that seemed to make little sense. Such as the fact that police calculations would have demonstrated that the bus driver applied his brakes before seeing the Sindu truck. Or that the police calculations suggested that the bus speed was 123 km/h. Such confusing information could have been sorted out if a detailed study was made of the police investigation by an independent entity such as Gorski Consulting. But we were never given that opportunity.

Furthermore, the roof the bus was found to be separated from the rest of its structure when photos were shown at its final rest position shortly after the crash. The characteristics of the separation gave the initial impression the emergency personnel had cut off the roof in order to gain access to the numerous injured passengers. However subsequent information from others suggested that this was no the case and that the roof became separated as a result of the crash. Such an occurrence would be highly relevant to the safety of the passengers. But nothing was officially revealed about what happened with respect to the bus roof.

While it would seem that the annoying little mosquito of truth was finally put to rest, a new article became published by the Canadian Press and displayed on the CP24 News website dated May 28, 2024. The title of this article was “Humboldt Broncos families fight to keep Saskatchewan government named in lawsuit”. It reported that four families of those bus passengers were suing the Saskatchewan government because “…the province knew the rural intersection where the crash happened had problems with visibility but did nothing to fix it”. The families’ lawyer, Kevin Mellor, was quoted as saying “If the government had simply designed and constructed and maintained the highway…the bus would have stopped regardless of what Mr. Sidhu had done…and the Broncos would have lived”. The Saskatchewan government was fighting to prevent the trial from taking place.

Much like Sidhu’s trial, even if the civil trial takes place there is no guarantee that the basic truths about the Broncos crash will ever be publicly revealed. Deals will be made behind the cameras so that nothing of substance is made public. Yet public knowledge is what keeps the powerful accountable for their actions. It is not a way of looking for vengeance. It is a way in which safety problems become acknowledged and fixed so future families do not have to experience these terrible tragedies. Killing that pesky mosquito of truth before it has a chance to draw the public’s attention is the additional Humboldt Broncos tragedy.

Ford Government Secretly Directs Prosecutors To Reduce Impaired Driver Charges

Once again the Ford “family” has interfered with the administration of Justice in Ontario by directing that an unknown number of impaired drivers should receive lesser charges. So, if you are a friend of the “family” you get rewarded for endangering the lives of the innocent.

Global News reportedly broke the story that, the Ford Government sent a directive to Ontario Prosecutors to use their discretion in reducing impaired driving charges as a way of reducing the court backlog.

The reality is that the Ford “family” has been using its power to reduce government expenditures in every way possible, regardless of circumstances. Whether it be in Ontario’s health system, education system and its justice system. Rather than increase government costs by appointing more judges to clear the court backlog, the Ford “family” chose to let criminals free, but not revealing which criminals received those perks.

In a Global News article of May 22, 2024, it was revealed that the Ford government never kept track of how many impaired driving charges were reduced and to who. As prosecutors are appointed by the Ford “family” it is conceivable that those in Ford’s inner circle would receive preferential treatment. It continues a Ford track record of interference with Ontario’s justice system.

No sooner than the Ford government came into power they immediately scraped the plans to improve the Police Act which would have created more transparency is the workings of institutions such as Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit. Doug Ford then tried to install his friend into the position of the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police. He also talked about appointing “like-minded” judges who would support his way of thinking regardless of the evidence presented at trial. The latest interference with sentencing select impaired drivers is just a continuing process of crooked activity by a government that was not elected by a majority, but elected through a minority, because the Ontario public was too apathetic to vote in sufficient numbers in the last election.

Arrest Of Scottie Scheffler Spotlights Need For Better Judgment & Training Of Police In Traffic Scenarios

On April 30, 2024 a police officer from York Regional Police ran into the path of a fleeing SUV and was subsequently struck.

It became a bazaar circumstance when the world’s top golfer became arrested in an early morning encounter with Louisville Police at the site of a fatal pedestrian collision near the grounds of the Valhalla golf club where the 2024 Professional Golf Association (PGA) was taking place. The details of what happened have not been discussed in official circles but it appears that Scheffler attempted to drive through the collision area on his way to the golf course where he was scheduled to tee-off in about 4 hours time. News media reported that Scheffler’s vehicle passed by a police officer who yelled at him and then “attached” himself to Scheffler’s vehicle. Other news reports indicated that Scheffler failed to follow police instructions and that a police officer was “dragged to the ground”.

In another news article description from a police report we have the version from the police:

Whatever actually took place in the Scheffler incident highlights that, in many instances, police are struck by vehicles in a variety of circumstances. But in some of those circumstances the consequences could clearly have been avoided or minimized. This is largely due to the fact that in those circumstances police have tried to step into the path of a moving vehicle, have tried to grab hold of a moving vehicle, or have tried to enter into a vehicle when a driver has not complied with their commands. The scenarios have repeated themselves so often that it suggests police administration is not conducting proper training of officers leading to poor judgments.

While many instances result in minor consequences some do not. Recently there have been examples in the vicinity of Toronto, Ontario where both results occurred.

A recent trial took place this spring where a police officer from Toronto was killed in a parking garage of Toronto’s City Hall. In that incident police in plain clothes approached a driver and his family as the father was beginning to pull out of a parking spot. Not recognizing the persons as police the driver backed out and then ran over one of the officers, killing him. The description of what happened was dubious as officers claimed that the struck officer was standing in front of the vehicle, in plain view when he was struck while the physical evidence indicated that the officer was lying on the ground and likely not visible. The safety issue is that police failed to understand that they might not be recognized as police when they are in plain clothes and that someone who believes they could be assaulted might attempt to escape. In that scenario police ought to have stayed clear of the vehicle because past experience and proper training ought to have instructed them that they could be struck.

In a contrasting incident a police officer from York Region (Toronto) was struck on April 30, 2024 when he ran out in front of vehicle whose driver was attempting to flee. A frame from video of that incident is shown at the top of the article. As shown in the three additional frames below, the officer was thrown up and did a summersault landing back on his feet. He reportedly sustained minimal injury but the result could have been much worse.

This incident took place at the same time as the trial was taking place involving the plain clothes police officer who was killed. The well-publicized trial should have been a warning to police about the consequences of entering into the path of a fleeing vehicle. Yet the actions of the officer from York Region demonstrate that he did not heed that warning.

Historically there have been tragic results that ought to be used in police training.

In January of 2011, a mentally disturbed male stole a tow truck and began driving erratically through the streets of Toronto while police tried to stop him. At one point a police Sergeant stepped out of his cruiser to confront the approaching tow truck. The Sergeant was struck and killed. This incident should have been used by police in their training to inform them that they should not allow themselves to be exposed to an erratic driver but remain in the greater safety of their own cruiser.

A short time later, in June, 2011 a young driver became engaged in an encounter with a police officer at a traffic stop on Hwy 48 east of Toronto, Ontario. The officer attempted to enter the vehicle through the driver’s window. The driver accelerated from his stop while the officer was partly in the vehicle. The vehicle reached a high speed before it exited onto the roadside and rolled over. The police officer became trapped under the rolled vehicle and perished before support help could arrive. This tragic incident should have been used by police trainers to inform officers never to reach into a vehicle while a driver still has control of a vehicle.

In a similar incident in August, 2012 in London, Ontario. A female driver was pulled over by a police traffic stop when two of the vehicle’s passengers ran away on foot. One of the officers reached in through the right side window “to arrest the driver”. The driver accelerated, steering left and right to shake the officer off the vehicle. The officer fell onto the pavement but was not killed. Again, this incident occurred within a year of the previous two police fatalities noted above. Clearly the officer who reached into the motor vehicle should have appreciated the danger of such an action but that did not happen.

In another dragging incident in downtown Kitchener, Ontario in December, 2013, two police officers were dragged while they attempted to reach into a vehicle and the driver sped off. The officers were reportedly dragged for only a short distance before they disengaged and were not seriously injured.

In another incident in June, 2023, a police officer from Hamilton was dragged when his arms became trapped as a driver rolled up his window on the Red Hill Valley Parkway. No information was made available about how the officer was able to free himself and no injury information was available except that the officer was able to return to duty.

Yet the complexity of these incidents demonstrates that sometimes police are faced with difficult decisions. Another incident occurred in July, 2012, in the vicinity of London and St Thomas where robbers were pursued by police in a long chase from London, to St Thomas and back to London again and speeds of 130 km/h were reached through city streets. In that incident a spike belt was used to deflate the vehicle’s tires yet the driver continued to drive while the wheel rims produced a long trail of metal markings on the pavement. Nothing could be done to stop the vehicle until it became jammed on railway tracks in the north-west of London’s downtown and slid into a ditch. During that long pursuit the public was exposed to danger and this is the flip side of the coin, demonstrating that stopping a fleeing vehicle is necessary as time and distance increase the chances of the occurrence ending in a tragic result. But there was no indication that police exited their cruisers and put themselves in the path of the fleeing vehicle.

Another incident began in September, 2013 when a store keeper pressed an alarm to reveal shop-lifters at a Kitchener grocery store. Police arrived and the shoplifters escaped in a car which eventually became trapped in an apartment building parking lot. The police sergeant partially blocked the only exit with his cruiser and then walked out in front of the vehicle with his pistol raised. The sergeant was surprized as, instead of surrendering, the driver ducked down below the windshield and accelerated. The sergeant managed to fire 4 rounds, striking the fleeing vehicle’s windshield but missing the driver and his passengers. The sergeant was struck, rolling onto the hood and sustained a fractured knee including other injuries. At trial it became revealed that the fleeing driver was a career criminal who had injured another police officer while speeding from police three months earlier. It was also revealed that the driver was impaired by drugs (heroin and crystal methamphetamine) at the time of the shoplifting incident. This demonstrates that police cannot know who they are dealing with as an incident unfolds and that stepping in front a vehicle is the last action that should be contemplated without considering what might occur.

Many incidents occur where police are struck and either minimal information is available or an officer sustains only minor injuries. For example in another incident in April, 2016, a police officer from Ottawa, Ontario was struck when he turned his back on a vehicle with its engine running and its driver seemingly sleepy and impaired. The driver reversed his vehicle striking the officer and pinning him against his own cruiser. Fortunately the officer sustained only minor injuries. In another incident in September, 2016, a Toronto police officer was struck after he exited his cruiser believing that police had successfully boxed in a fleeing vehicle. Again it was fortunate that no serious injuries occurred.

In another incident in September, 2017, an OPP officer was struck and “dragged” for a substantial distance in an apartment building parking lot in Mississauga, Ontario. The officer had been standing next to the stopped vehicle when it suddenly accelerated and he grabbed the headrest of the driver seat. He sustained injuries that were initially believed to be critical as his head hit the pavement, but further information confirmed that his injuries were not life-threatening. Unfortunately the head injuries led to prolonged symptoms that affected his career.

In summary police, when they are on foot, are in no less danger of serious injury than any unprotected pedestrian, when in close proximity to a motor vehicle. The complexity of these scenarios is that each is unique. Drivers of vehicles are unpredictable in what they might do. In the case of someone like Scottie Scheffler, the driver may not be a dangerous criminal but might simply misunderstand the actions or intentions of a police officer. And in other instances a driver may be impaired by drugs/alcohol or may be mentally unstable making it difficult to predict what their actions might be. And in the case of drivers purposely attempting to flee, police should be exceptionally cautious in exiting their cruisers or standing in the path of a fleeing vehicle. Events unfold quickly and require quick and good reasoning as to what the best actions must be.

There are instances where police themselves are the dangers to the public. A percentage of officers should not be employed in their capacity because they are prone to exaggerated behaviour which inflames minor issues into major problems. It remains a significant problem that police who refuse or are incapable for de-escalating confrontations cannot be removed from their employment.

But, overall, police must be trained and to understand that they must not attempt to enter a vehicle that is moving or stopped but under control of a driver. If a driver does not comply with commends this must be a sign to police that they could be in grave danger. In some instances it may be reasonable to disable a vehicle with whatever means are necessary so that it cannot be used on a wild rampage.

In one instance, when a vehicle was boxed in, a Toronto police officer jumped on the hood of the vehicle and shot multiple rounds into the engine compartment. This action was viewed by news media and bystanders as excessive and unnecessary. Yet if that action disables a vehicle and there are grounds to believe the driver may try to flee, this could be a reasonable police action. The alternative in the past has been that police have shot into the occupant compartment of a fleeing vehicle, sometimes killing an innocent passenger. This occurred to an innocent boy who was abducted by his father and subsequently killed when the father drove through a police barricade and police shot at the passing vehicle north-east of Toronto a few years ago.

So disabling a vehicle by whatever means is an important action that could save the lives of others. It is a matter of good judgment. Good judgment is not always instinctive but can be developed through proper police training. The many instances where police on foot attempt to gain control of a vehicle by grabbing hold of it, or trying to enter it, indicates that there is a lack of proper training that must be corrected.

Automatic Emergency Braking Will Finally Become Law

Emerging technology cannot solve all of safety problems. And in some instances it just creates new ones. But Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is one technology is that should improve far more than it complicates. Recently the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has introduced the new AEB standard. While it applies to the U.S., safety standards are essentially copied by Transport Canada and will equally affect the Canadian market.

In this example of a multi-vehicle collision on Hwy 403 near Paris Road near Brantford in April, 2023, the mixture of light and heavy vehicles with differing stopping capabilities makes driver reaction challenging, particularly when the view ahead is obstructed. Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) could cause emergency braking actions to occur quicker resulting in the reduction of collision severity or collision avoidance altogether.

The following summary is taken from the the introduction of the new standard.

The standard applies to capabilities of avoiding impacts with other motor vehicles and pedestrians. Curiously, nothing appears to be mentioned about avoiding cyclists, although that may exist in the 110-page publication which has not be reviewed in detail at this time.

Another Cyclist Fatality in Toronto That Will Never Be Explained To Those Who Are Being Killed

Once again, we are taken on the same merry-go-round, noting that another cyclist has been killed, but doing nothing about identifying how or why.

News agencies report that a 59-year-old cyclist was killed in Toronto Ontario “on Bayview Avenue at the Don Valley North exit ramp, near the Brick Works” (CP24 News article April 8, 2024). The cyclist was reportedly struck by a 2023 Ford Bronco Sport SUV.

We can note the “very helpful” description of what happened as noted in the police news release: “The two collided causing the cyclist to fall and causing significant injuries”.

It is understandable that collision reconstruction takes time. That is why persons reading such comments believe that, although nothing is known at an early time, it will eventually be unraveled. But the unfortunate reality is that, even though police may unravel what happened, the explanation of what happened will never reach the public that needs to know. And the public has a short memory. Within days the public is bombarded by numerous other news items and the relevance of a cyclist death become irrelevant.

But why does the public need to know? Surely, over the years, it has been understood that how and why collisions occur is only to be known by investigating police and then only known by those to whom the police report the information. Strangely this process has carried on for decades as if it could be an efficient way to improve road safety.

Our view at Gorski Consulting is clear: Anyone who rides a cycle on or near public roads and paths ought to be provided with clear and accurate information about what risks exist that could injure or kill them. At the present time that is not happening.

The evidence is clear, as demonstrated by Dr. Alison Macpherson in her recent research on cyclist collisions in Toronto. Her work showed that police reports of collisions captured only 8% of cyclist visits to hospital emergency departments in Toronto. She also noted that, over a 5-year-period, there were over 30,000 cyclist visits to hospital emergency departments and about 87% of those incidents did not involve a collision with a motor vehicle. Whenever a motor vehicle is not involved police do not have to fill out a report. So this is another reason why vast numbers of cyclist injuries are never made public.

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