Being stopped on Highway 401 is a recipe for disaster and was demonstrated once again in a collision that occurred near Kenesserie Road on Monday morning, June 11, 2018, just east of Chatham, Ontario.
It was reported that the above-pictured vehicle had come to a stop as a result of another collision that occurred earlier. A transport truck coming from behind failed to stop and struck the vehicle pushing it into the median. One need not be an expert to recognize that the extent of crush was such that fatal injuries could easily have occurred. Setting that aside however the lack of major injuries is also not as surprising as one might think.
Looking at the back bumper and right rear wheel it can be seen that these structures were not crushed forward to the extent of the structures above. It is well-known in the collision reconstruction community that the stiffness of passenger vehicles lies at the bumper level and when there is “over-ride” damage from impacts by taller vehicles such as transport trucks, there is a lot of energy dissipation that occurs in the softer structure (sheet metal, etc) resulting in a lot of crush and structural intrusion into the occupant space. Normally structural intrusion is very bad. But in this case there was likely no one in the vehicle except the driver and it can been that the structural intrusion was not as significant at the driver’s seat (even though the angle of the photograph tends to hide that fact). So in this exceptional case, it was advantageous to have the tremendous extent of deformation and crush as this would increase the collision time and thus reduce the acceleration which causes injury. What may not be apparent is that if the car’s structure was extremely stiff and did on crush then the struck vehicle would be accelerated forward in a much faster time and this would increase the acceleration experienced by the struck driver. Never-the-less, it was a lucky occurrence that, even via a minor adjustment to the circumstances, could easily have resulted in fatal injuries to this driver.
At the same time as this incident was being reported, CTV News published an article using OPP statistics indicating that “Fatal transport truck crashes up 25 per cent” over the previous year. As is typical of such inflammatory pronouncements they did not actually tell anyone what the numbers were. So, as an example, if there were two fatal collisions last year, and four collisions this year that would be a 100 per cent increase. But does that mean that we should become hysterical about these numbers? Clearly this could be normal, typical, fluctuation of collision numbers.
As typical the partnership of the OPP with the CTV article places most of the blame for transport truck crashes on truck drivers. In reality, OPP investigations are not as complete or accurate to allow such a broad generalization. In most of the investigations we have examined in the past glaring errors exist such that the facts and analysis gathered from such collisions rarely provide a correct indication of the causes. While driver error cannot be discounted, a properly detailed investigation and analysis often reveals that the causes are far more complicated.
Rear-end impacts on Highway 401 are a typical example of the dangerous events that occur without properly detailed accounting of the factors that lead to them. It requires that the purpose of investigation be adjusted not just to punish drivers, but to scientifically document and analyze incidents to make all users of the highway safe from all potential hazards.
While the typical discussion of news media centred around irrelevant issues, the important questions regarding how and why a tour bus of Chinese passengers sideswiped a rock cut on the side of Highway 401 near Prescott, Ontario were never asked and therefore no answers were given.
It was Monday afternoon, June 4, 2018 when reports began coming in of a serious bus crash involving multiple injured passengers on Highway 401 near Prescott, Ontario. As the reports continued it was revealed that at least 5 passengers sustained critical level injuries and, as of the present time, one of those passengers has now been declared deceased.
As is typical in such matters police closed the roadway where the collision took place and this resulted in news media scrambling to take long-distance and aerial photos of the bus. In the vast majority of these instances the critical evidence of importance is often located along the travel path of the vehicle leading up to the final rest position of the vehicle. Yet, in almost every circumstance all the news media flock to taking photos and video of the damaged vehicle without documenting the important evidence that might reveal how and why the collision occurred. The critical evidence would lie within the last 200 or 300 metres of roadway east of where the bus came to rest so that we could identify important clues such as tire marks, debris, or characteristics of the road.
Even through there were only poor views of the area there were still areas of concern that were revealed. Primarily a rock cut existed close to the road and there was no evidence of a guardrail or any other device placed along this major expressway that would keep high speed traffic protected from travelling into the rock cut. Secondly, the steepness of the slope of the roadside appeared to be excessive thus taking any wayward vehicle toward the rock cut. Thirdly, there were road maintenance pylons visible along the side of the highway suggesting there was some work in progress that might have been a factor causing the bus to veer off of the roadway. Fourth, there appeared to be a new patch in the road surface a short distance from where the bus came to rest and along the median edge of the road surface. Such evidence could suggest that other patches existed or surface deficiencies existed that had not yet been repaired. None of these important facts were discussed in any of the news media coverage of the tragedy. Undoubtedly, as typically happens, a police spokesperson will stand before a news camera and will proclaim that an investigation is under way and it is too early to say anything of relevance, and the matter will float away from the public’s memory until the next tragedy occurs.
An interesting sideline is that the Mayor the Town of Prescott was actually interviewed and expressed his concern over the number of serious collisions that have occurred recently in area of the bus crash. Mayor Brett Todd referred to two serious tractor-trailer crashes that had occurred on Highway 401 and he complained of the highway being reduced to a single lane of traffic: “Whenever you have a reduction in lanes, it seems that we have these serious accidents”. In fact that is a wise observation coming from a non-expert that could have been made by anyone. But no one has made that comment, or least such a comment was never brought to the public’s attention.
In fact, many safety problems exist when lane closures take place in the presence of a large percentage of heavy truck on Highway 401. This is a simple conclusion that could be made by anyone. While protest groups have called for median barriers to be placed in areas such as at the Chatham- Kent area, no one has really stopped to ask how many serious collisions are occurring when there are lane closures and heavy trucks are involved. Median barriers are important safety improvements but there are many other safety concerns that also need to be highlighted.
So what happened with the tour bus collision near Prescott? Why did it veer off the road? News media immediately focused on the driver of the bus, the bus tour company and the possibility of a defect in the bus. However any collision analyst would understand that, historically, collision investigations need to focus on three general factors: Human, Vehicle and Environment, or HVE. This has been understood for decades by safety researchers. So where is the focus on the last factor, the Environment? Seemingly, in the psyche of police and news media the Environment factor does not exist and therefore it is never in the minds of the public that obtains all its information about collisions from these monopolies of collision information.
What we do know is that Provincial Constable Sean Coughlan was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm by Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) with respect to an alleged collision between his police cruiser and an ATV operated by Edward Labadie and the incident occurred on June 22, 2016. We also know that the same Constable was charged with perjury with respect to his response to the same incident. But that may be as far as anyone can go with any degree of confidence. Yes, there was one additional known fact: Constable Coughlan was found not guilty in a jury trial that was completed near the end of May, 2018.
Despite the fact that a lone reporter was available to cover and report on the trial in Sarnia, we know nothing about where the incident occurred other than that it occurred on a rural Lambton County Road. We know nothing about what kind of ATV was involved. We know nothing about what type of police cruiser was involved.
Experts from the SIU and from the OPP both testified at trial. It would appear that the primary objective evidence was with respect to an imprint near the front bumper of the police cruiser that was astoundingly similar to the match of a wheel of the ATV; or so the SIU expert believed. But another expert defending the police Constable indicated that there was no such match since the evidence should have looked different than it did. The SIU were never able to examine the police cruiser until several weeks after the incident. And the OPP police supervisor who examined the incident used a professional “BS smell test” to determine whether the evidence sounded “smelly” and then did not ensure that any photographs of the police cruiser were taken so objective evidence could be made available after the fact.
In all, whether the Constable was truly innocent of any mischief will be irrelevant. The actions of those surrounding the incident, whether from the SIU or from the OPP, were so inappropriate, or reported so, that no one reading the news media reports of the trial could feel confident that anything resembling the truth was resolved. If members of the public wanted to review the actual transcripts of the trial they would have to pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to the transcribers – a private business that must make money from such transactions. But no one would consider that such transparency is an important component of our democracy and should be made available.
No one can be realistically comfortable when the SIU cannot examine evidence until several weeks after an occurrence. No one can be reasonably comfortable when the SIU expert giving testimony has not been publically identified in any manner as to his expertise in such matters. But this is typical of the secrecy behind the operations and staffing of the SIU.
Still, no one can be comfortable when an explanation has not been provided why the OPP did not take photographs of the police cruiser when the Supervisor knew that the SIU was likely to be involved. No one can be comfortable when there was no explanation why witnesses who testified that the police cruiser was directly behind the ATV and that this information was passed onto the OPP Supervisor but nothing was indicated as to what the Supervisor did with that information.
In all, the proceedings demonstrate the lack of professionalism, truthfulness and discipline that the public should expect but do not receive. The old adage that “justice must be seen to be done…” is not just a cute little saying, but then again, maybe it is.
As visitors may have already realized the Gorski Consulting website is receiving some format changes. Some testing and experimentation is in the works to make sure we are happy with the new look. “Stay tuned”.
Just after posting the news item below regarding the drowning near Jarvis, Ontario, news media are now reporting that a vehicle entered the Grand River near Grand Valley, about 20 kilometres west of Orangeville, Ontario where it has been found submerged. A female driver of the vehicle managed to escape however news media are indicating that a child occupant of the vehicle is missing. The vehicle was reportedly swept several kilometres downstream, presumably south, from where it entered. Efforts will now be made to withdraw the vehicle from the river.
Again, the question remains, how did the vehicle come to enter the water? Police are quoted as saying the driver entered onto a closed road and then subsequently entered the water but that says very little. Which road was closed? How was it closed? Was it something where sufficient information was not provided to the driver and a misunderstanding occurred? Where precisely did this entering of the water occur? As per past experience these are important questions that are unlikely to see the light of day.
UPDATE: February 23, 2018; 0900 hours
Further details have been revealed in the last couple of days however majors issues still remain unanswered.
In earlier reports the incident reportedly occurred at 0215 hours however several news agencies reported it occurred at 0100 hours on February 21, 2018. The site where the van entered into the Grand River was reported to be “near 10th Line and Henry Street. It was reported that the van was swept down the river for several kilometres.
In a CP24 News article of 1403 hours of February 21st it was reported that the incident occurred at precisely 0053 hours when a witness saw the headlights of a vehicle bobbing and pointing upward out of the Grand River. A female driver and a 3-year-old child had occupied the vehicle. Constable Paul Nancekivell was quoted as saying “She managed to free herself right away and then the van was swept away moments later”. At approximately 0930 hours a van was reportedly located stuck in the middle of the Grand River however due the fast running water and large ice flows it was determined unsafe for rescuers to reach the vehicle and a cable was attached to it to prevent its further travel down the river. The location of the van was described as “under a bridge in between the 9th Line and 10th Line”.
In a further update by CP24 News at 2018 hours of February 21st, it was reported that a 3-year-old boy was missing as he was swept away from his mother’s grip after their minivan entered the river. The time of the incident was confirmed by police as 0053 hours. Police indicated that the female driver drove past a road block adjacent to the river where water was rushing over top of the road. The van was then swept into the river. Police indicated that the driver was about to exit the van with her son when “the boy was swept away from her grip down the river”. The van was found further downstream and secured with cables. Rescuers were in the process of searching for the boy.
Visibility at the time of the incident was reported to be extremely poor such that “You couldn’t see past the hood of your vehicle”.
There was still no specific information about the location where the van was swept away from the road and where it was found.
In a Hamilton Spectator newspaper article Grand Valley District Chief Kevin McNeilly was quoted as saying that the weather conditions were “treacherous” at the time the mother and son were swept away. It was extremely foggy and at one point the river rose three feet in a matter of 20 minutes.
In a CP24 News article at 0834 hours of February 22nd it was confirmed that the van had already been pulled out of the water however its exact location was still not provided.
In a Toronto Star newspaper article the young boy was identified as Kaden Young and his mother, Michelle Hanson was the driver of the van. Some indication of the location was provided in the phrase “Firefighters found Hanson, hypothermic, at a watery alcove on the river’s bank”. While this information is exceeding scant, at least it refers to an alcove.
In an article published by CBC News at 0919 hours of February 22nd, some specifics were provided. It indicated that the mother drove past a road closure sign and it was foggy at the time but police opined that she knew the sign was there.
In an article published by CJOY, Constable Nancekivell was quoted as saying that Michell Hanson had been “driving southbound down 10th Line and failed to stop at the road closure that had been in place. The woman drove into heavy water and when she tried to back up, the van was swept into the Grand River”. Hanson reportedly pulled her son from the van after it was swept into the river but lost her grip. She managed to pull herself onto the bank of the river but the van was swept seven kilometres down river and got stuck in some silt. Hanson was reported to live in the area.
In a Hamilton Spectator newspaper article of 0544 hours, February 22nd, the authors indicated that Hanson “accidentally missed a road-closure sign”, suggesting that she did not do so deliberately as suggested by Constable Nancekivell. The article also quoted Hanson’s family members who stated that Hanson did not see the road-closure sign due to dark and foggy conditions. Fire Chief Kevin McNeilly was quoted to say that his firefighters initially responded to a call about a motor vehicle collision just before 1 a.m. but, while on route, they were notified that a vehicle had gone into the river. If there was a second incident involving an accident it has not been reported by any other agencies. A rescue vehicle was sent to the Dufferin County Road 109 bridge where they heard Hanson’s calls for help.
This would imply that the van must have been carried past the Cty Rd 109 bridge if Hanson was not carried with the van. However it is possible that she also might have been carried downstream for some distance or that perhaps she moved down stream of her own volition. Yet the article indicated the van was found “upstream” where it was secured. This is rather confusing as it would suggest that Hanson was carried downstream, to the south, past the van which was found upstream, or north of her location at the Cty Rd 109 bridge.
Examination of the photos showing the van’s location one can observe a utility pole sticking out of the water and comparing this to images on GoogleMaps suggests that the pole in question was located on the north edge of the the bridge of Cty Rd 109, although we cannot be absolutely certain. A further examination of the GoogleMaps data suggests that the distance from the Cty Rd 109 bridge northward to the hamlet of Waledmar is slightly more than 1 kilometre and, if the van was swept along the river for seven kilometres as indicated by news media this does not make sense. Further analysis indicates that the distance northward from the Cty Rd 109 bridge to the point where the 10th Line crosses the Grand River is only 2.3 kilometres thus this is also far short of the seven kilometres that was quoted in the CJOY article. None of this confusion has been clarified.
Having examined further news media photos it is our opinion that the van was swept away from the road at a bend in the 10th Line located 1.5 kilometres north of the Cty Rd 109 bridge. This is a location just a few hundred metres north of Henry Street in the hamlet of Waledmar. In our opinion the van was likely stopped at the Cty Rd 109 bridge where Ms. Hanson was also found. At least this is the best interpretation that can be made based on the confusing information that has been reported. In fact the those reporting the incident could not have made this information any more confusing nor as if there was a purposeful attempt to preventing anyone from knowing the precise manner in which this incident unfolded.
There is an obvious conflict with respect to what happened as Ms. Hanson approached the wash out and why she passed through the reported road closure. If the water at the site had been rising as quickly as 3 feet per every 20 minutes it is not difficult to imagine that an initial placement of a road closure barricade could be overwhelmed by the rising water. The barricade could be partially submerged or even knocked over, as has been witnessed on a number of previous occasions on any roadway. If there was an actual trailer with some mass to it then that interference could be less likely. If a barricade remained standing then, even in dense fog, it would be difficult to image that Ms. Hanson could not have detected it if it was properly placed a cross the majority of the road width. Granted, with the lack of visibility she might be expected to drive into the barrier but it is difficult to believe she would not actually detect its presence. So what were the actual conditions at the road closure. There have no questions or answers provided on this important issue. As typical there a substantial outpouring of grief and emotion which is detracting form the important quest to reveal how and why this innocent boy likely came to his death.
Ultimately the revelation of how this came about is a societal issue, not a personal one, as we must all be responsible for ensuring that no one dies from unknown reasons by the actions of unknown persons.
News media have reported that the Tesla that drove into the back of a stopped fire truck in South Jordan (Salt Lake City) Utah on Friday May 11, 2018 had the semi-autonomous Autopilot engaged. In fact this conclusion is based on the driver’s own statement to police. While it may prove to be true there are many instances where drivers may say all kinds of things in order to protect themselves. The best source of such a conclusion would be the Tesla’s event data recorder and not what the driver may have stated.
South Jordan police have been quoted as stating that the Tesla was travelling at 97 km/h when it slammed into the back of the stopped fire truck and that that the female driver of the Tesla only sustained a broken ankle. It has been reported that a Twitter comment by Tesla’s co-founder, Elon Musk, indicated “What’s actually amazing about this accident is that a Model S hit a fire truck at 60 mph and the driver only broke an ankle…an impact of that speed usually results in severe injury or death”.
This is precisely the point that Gorski Consulting made in our news item of May 14th, 2018, only we questioned the police conclusions. The photograph of the damage to the front end of the Telsa did not match what the police have concluded. The police conclusions would suggest that the Telsa sustained a change-in-velocity (Delta-V) of close to 100 km/h because the fire truck would act as a moveable barrier that would result in limited post-impact motion. Such as massive change-in-velocity is not demonstrated in the relatively small amount of dissipated energy exhibited in the visible amount of crush shown in the photograph of the Tesla.
If the fire truck was stopped then the only chance of matching the police conclusions would be if that fire truck was not in gear and was pushed forward on rolling wheels thus contributing to some of the energy loss from the collision by allowing some additional post-impact motion of both vehicles. But even that possibility remains highly unlikely as severe crush should still exist on the Tesla. Obviously, the situation could be more plausible if the fire truck was actually travelling at a substantial forward velocity when the impact occurred such that the closing speed was much less than what has been assumed.
It has been reported that on Friday, May 11, 2018, a Tesla Model S sedan crashed into the back of stopped fire truck at a speed of 60 mph (100 km/h) in South Jordan Utah. The driver of the Tesla, or its semi-autonomous system, did not apply any braking prior to the impact and the driver only suffered a broken right ankle.
The above photo of the crashed Tesla was released by South Jordan police. This photo shows that crush to the vehicle was mainly above its bumper in a typical “under-ride” manner that would not be unexpected given the typical higher rear bumper of a large truck. The front wheels of the Tesla do not appear to have been displaced rearward and the A-pillars also appear to be in their original positions. All these facts support the conclusion that the Tesla’s crush does not exhibit the type of expected energy dissipation that would be comparable to a change-in-velocity (Delta-V) anywhere close to 60 mph (100 km/h).
Ever since the published research paper by Kenneth Campbell in 1974 comparing change-in-speed and vehicle crush there has been a lot of “crush measuring” in the field by various collision investigators/reconstructionists. In fact, computer reconstruction programs such as CRASH were developed for the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the specific purpose of objectively estimating the severity of a crash through the measurement of vehicle crush. So those who are familiar with those procedures know that the stiffness of most light-duty vehicles is much less in the vertical zone above the bumper than it is a the bumper level. Thus the crush shown in the Tesla would be much less had it involved contact with its bumper where the stiff structure is located.
It is true that under-ride collisions such as that shown in the above Tesla photo result in an under-estimation of the speed loss because the impact force is not horizontal but there is a vertical component which tends to lift the taller struck vehicle (i.e. the fire truck) while pushing the striking vehicle into the pavement. Furthermore some speed will be lost from post-impact motion of the vehicles, yet it is unlikely that the post-impact travel distances would be substantial in that the fire truck would act like a massive, movable barrier due to the large difference in the masses of each vehicle. While these factors are known they cannot explain the very large difference in the visible crush and the reported speed loss of close to 60 mph.
The unusually large interest in this crash is due to the possibility that its auto-pilot mode may have been activated and therefore this could suggest that the system failed to apply braking when it would be expected to do so. The present information indicates that it is unknown at this time whether that system was indeed activated.
From a collision reconstruction viewpoint, the use of event data from downloading of data from a recorder is becoming increasing common such that many investigators and analysts are becoming exclusively dependent on such data when completing their conclusions about how a collision occurred. Whatever the eventual circumstances in the present collision, it demonstrates the importance of investigators/analysts knowing their physical evidence and being able to use that knowledge of the physical evidence to independently detect possible discrepancies that may exist in downloaded event data. This comment is not just with respect to the physical evidence visible in vehicle damage, but relates to all the evidence on the roadway and with respect to the expected performance of the human behind the wheel.
Recent court appearances in the Province of Ontario demonstrate that many courts appear oblivious the wide range of knowledge that a collision reconstructionist must have, and must evaluate in order to narrow possible causes to one or select few.
It should not be surprising that no one outside of readers of the St Catharines newspaper would be aware that a person was found inside a submerged car in the Niagara River on the afternoon of Friday, February 9th, 2018. Certainly there was no other mention of the fact in any other news outlets. But even the newspaper could not inform anyone of the status of the occupant. “When, how, why and where the car entered the water remains under investigation by police”, as was noted in the newspaper article. As per past history it is unlikely that the public will ever be told about any “when, how, why or how” relating to this incident.
With the narrowing of news sources to just a few, the loss of professional journalists, and the inability to investigate but simply parrot what little information is provided by primary investigators, society is at a critical edge of being grossly misinformed about issues of major importance. Lack of information about road motor vehicle collisions and deaths is only the tip of the iceberg but it is indicative of the general need for the public to be properly and truthfully informed.
OPP Police Cruiser And ATV Collision in Lambton County – Nothing of Substance In Opening of Constable Sean Coughlan’s Trial
It is a controversial matter whenever Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is up against a police constable and the news media know that such a story is capable of bringing new readers/viewers in the shrinking news media market.
The story is that OPP Constable Sean Coughlan has been charged by the SIU with criminal negligence and perjury with respect to a collision that occurred on June 22, 2016 “on a Dawn-Euphemia road in the southeast corner of Lambton County”. Although several news agencies have reported this story no one has actually mentioned the specific roadway where the collision occurred. Also, there appeared to be no mention by the various news organizations that the collision occurred in the few days after its occurrence.
Reporting on the opening day of the trial provided minimal, objective information about what actually transpired. Evidently an ATV rider, Edward Labadie, 25, of Bothwell, Ontario might have been pursued by Constable Coughlan in his cruiser and the specifics of this may be revealed in later days of the trial. It would appear that Constable Coughlan’s version of the event will be that the ATV rider lost control of his vehicle of his own accord resulting in Labadie’s serious head injuries. The alternative view that will likely be posed by the SIU is that Constable Coughlan was somehow involved in causing the crash and that he later perjured himself in failing to report how the events actually unfolded. Is that what will be presented in the future days of the trial? Who knows. Whenever trial proceedings occur there is often a slow release of murky details that lead readers/viewers of news information to speculate and assume. The title of the news article coming from Neil Bowen of the Sarnia Observer Newspaper read “Father of injured ATV rider suggests OPP cruiser hit son’s vehicle” and the article quoted the father, Chad Tunks, as saying his son looked “beaten up” suggesting in the minds of readers that the injuries were related to the police doing the beating and not due to a collision. These are large accusations.
Mr. Tunks also reported seeing skid marks at the accident location suggesting that they were related to the police cruiser during the accident. Meanwhile the defense lawyer, Phillip Millar, told Tunks that those skid marks were created by police during testing following the collision. These facts would appear to be simple to prove or disprove. OPP continually conduct post-collision skid-testing at accident sites to determine the co-efficient of friction of a road surface. A simple photograph of the marks could very quickly confirm which interpretation is correct.
Not unexpectedly, there was information from witnesses who will claim that the cruiser was as close as one or two car lengths behind the ATV to as far apart as two minutes of driving time. Discrepancies like these could be explainable if the observations were made at different times along the progress of the incident. But too often the courts continue to attribute too much importance to the comments of such witnesses without recognizing that independent objective facts are needed to support such comments before they should be believed.
There was mention made of blood alcohol testing and the belief by police that Labadie had been drinking and was possibly impaired at the time of the crash because of slurred speech and an alcohol odour. The apparently damaging consequence to that interpretation is that the blood sample “showed a zero blood-alcohol level”. Even though the sample was taken about two-and-a-half hours after the accident the highest reading that could possibly exist from elimination rates would be about 45 milligrams as testified by forensic toxicologist Marie Elliot. So there is some explaining required as to how police could make the impairment conclusion. A person who sustains facial fractures that ultimately result in significant brain injury is likely to exhibit slurred speech yet such conclusions about impairment have been made on previous occasions without any apparent recognition of the paradox.
A point that appears disturbing is that it was Labadie’s father, Chad Tunks, who reported the incident to the SIU and therefore it would be believed that police themselves did not report the incident to the SIU. The reasons why this occurred may or may not be publicly revealed but the lack of reporting of incidents must remain a concern outside of this particular incident.
Otherwise it appears that the OPP have not distanced themselves from Constable Coughlan and, at face value, it would appear that they may be supporting his version of the incident. If so then it lays the framework for a conflict between the OPP and SIU which is more disturbing. Whether Constable Coughlan’s cruiser rear-ended the ATV, as suggested in opening information by Edward Labadie, should be a simple matter to prove or disprove but the details of the problem may become apparent as the trial continues. However the facts unfold it would appear that either the OPP or the SIU have a misunderstanding of the evidence.
Questionable Vehicle Fires That No One Is Willing To Question
In the past 10 days there have been a number of questionable reports of vehicle fires that remain unexplained.
In a CBC News article from Carp, Ontario, a community located near Ottawa, a body was found inside a vehicle “that caught fire” on May 2, 2018. The very limited information was that arson and criminal investigators were looking into the case.
In an incident on Maple Grove Road in Cambridge, Ontario, on May 3, 2018, a crash involving a transport truck resulted in the truck being “engulfed in flames moments after the collision”. The driver of a car that had collided with the truck was trapped in his vehicle was luckily extricated by fire crews but was in critical condition. It was not made known whether the injuries to the trapped car driver were related to the impact or to the subsequent fire. The obvious issue is that the trapped driver would have been burned to death and further information should have been revealed on the issue.
In a fatal collision on Oxford Township Road 3 on the eastern outskirts of Woodstock, Ontario, a 19-year-old male driver of a 2007 Ford Fusion was reportedly ejected in a head on crash and was died. However the second vehicle, a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro reportedly caught fire and its driver had to be pulled from the vehicle by a passerby. The point is that in major collisions such as these persons can become trapped and cannot be extricated without the help of emergency personnel. So even though this appeared to be a minor fire event it could have been deadly to that Camaro driver.
In another fire reported by the London Free Press on May 8, 2018, a Ford Freestyle van was reportedly parked on Dundas Street near Adelaide Street when it suddenly caught fire while its occupants were shopping. The comment in the story was that the cause of the fire was unknown. Again, what if the fire had occurred in other circumstances where the van was occupied or if restrained children were inside? Such an event could have resulted in very tragic consequences but little attention was paid to it.
In another incident reported on May 11, 2018, CP24 News in Toronto reported that three vehicles were involved in a fire outside a company office. The only comment from police was that the fire was “not believed to be suspicious”. So does that suggest that if the fire was caused by a deliberate act we should worry but because it may not have been deliberate we should move on with our lives? Certainly further information should have been pursed as to how this fire started when it was not suspicious.
In a CBC News article authored by Susan Burgess, thousands of 2008-209 Mercedes Benz Smartcars will be recalled as a result of an number of fires originating at an insulating mat. One of those fires was experienced by Valerie Hovinga Bisset of Elmira, Ontario. The CBC article claimed:
“While Hovinga Bisset reported her fire to Transport Canada, the department declined to inspect her car, yet concluded it was not the result of a safety defect.”
Our observations suggest that the incidence of vehicle fires, whether as the result of collisions or otherwise, appear to be on the increase without much attention being paid to the fact. Every vehicle fire whether it involves the injury of a person or not, should be documented as it could relate to an pattern that might involve similar vehicles. With the decline of formal journalism in the public domain there is a serious concern that investigative journalism is not being fully involved in examining such issues.
The above photo taken by Jason Warick of CBC news provides the first available view of the struck side of the Peterbilt road tractor that was involved in the Humboldt Broncos collision last week. There appears to be absolutely no crush to the front or left side of this truck that can be related to the disintegration of the front end of the bus. In fact, the lack of damage is so obvious that it leads to the likely conclusion that this portion of the truck combination was not directly struck and that the front of bus may have made initial contact somewhere to the rear of the road tractor. This fact could have been resolved had police allowed some basic photos to be released before speculation mounted. The problem occurs repeatedly when officials insist on keeping almost every fact about major events like these secret while blaming the public and news media for jumping to conclusions.
The fact still remains, why does the front of the Broncos bus appear to have disintegrated? Even if it becomes revealed that an engine control module on the truck was not equipped with an event data recorder, or even if that capability was shut off, as it often is, a speed analysis can still be conducted in the conventional way of a momentum analysis. It can be difficult to judge the distance that the truck travelled from impact to rest however the distance visible in the post-impact photos does not suggest an extreme distance and therefore it does not suggest that the truck was travelling at an extreme speed at the time of impact with respect to the reported 100 km/h posted maximum speed. And we still do not know about what decelerations might have occurred before the truck reached the impact. But the combined speeds of the truck and bus will need to be known to further evaluate why the bus structure disintegrated. We do not agree that the public should stop speculating. Speculation is the fire that burns the official’s butts and pressures them toward providing the objective information that might otherwise be left unreported.
Surprisingly there has actually been some beneficial questioning and analysis performed by some news agencies that rarely exists. Several news agencies have now focused on the issue of the blockage created by the trees at the south-east quadrant of the intersection and they have also raised awareness to the six persons who died at this intersection in a collision in 1997. It has been reported that both roadways were signed with maximum speeds of 100 km/h. At that speed a vehicle travels 27.8 metres every second or just over 83 metres in 3 seconds. It could be a simple process of starting from the intersection of the two roads move backwards 83 metres along each road and then make an observation whether a person standing at that location on the one road can see a person standing at that location on the other road. If the trees create a blockage of that line of sight then we suggest there is a problem. Even with a braking system that is fully functional, a truck can generally not attain a deceleration rate greater than 0.6 g during maximum braking. Thus the truck or bus could need almost 50 metres of maximum braking in order to come to stop, without including the usual delay of 0.5 seconds or more that is needed for the truck/bus to begin braking after the brake pedal is applied. If we add a 1.0 second perception-response delay (27.8 metres) to that 50 metres we already have a minimum distance of almost 78 metres to bring a truck or bus to a stop even in the most favourable scenarios. So where is the edge of the trees? Someone who lives near the site or any news reporter could easily measure the edge of the trees with respect to the perpendicular location of each roadway centre-line. But even this basic information is not available.
Despite not having any reasonable site measurements we have conducted an analysis of the above scenario using the general dimensions available from the Google Maps view of the site. We have taken the aerial view shown in our news posting of April 8th, 2018 and we have added the analysis as shown in the view below. Since no site measurements are available we simply used the Google measurement tool to obtain the distance from the centre of the intersection to the driveway of the residence south of the intersection and found that to be about 78 metres. This 78 metres is shorter than the 83 metres needed for a 3-second pre-impact observation time discussed above. Using a “circle” tool we created two circles with a diameter of 78 metres and placed their edges at the centre of the intersection. Therefore the opposing edge of each circle indicates a location 78 metres along each roadway. From this 78-metre-location we then drew a diagonal line between these two 78-metre points (in bright pink below) to show what the line of sight would be from this location. Clearly one can see that the actual line of sight is nowhere close to what it should be. The grouping trees is clearly blocking that line of sight from just 78 metres.