Black box data illustrates triple-fatal crash at Robert Major’s trial

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Black box data illustrates triple-fatal crash at Robert Major trial
WATCH ABOVE: On day 3 of Robert Major’s trial, the jury learned just how much power was involved in the collision on Highway 16 near Langham almost three years ago that left three people dead – Jan 17, 2019

The black box pulled from a semi-truck involved in a triple-fatal collision shed light on the moments before and after impact during the Saskatoon trial of Robert Major.

As soon as Major’s Dodge Ram pickup T-boned a westbound semi-truck, the semi’s speed dropped roughly 20 kilometres per hour, the jury heard.

READ MORE: ‘Like an explosion’: truck driver recalls crash during Robert Major trial

In a matter of eight seconds, the semi’s speed plummeted from over 90 kilometres per hour to zero, testified Paul James, a regional maintenance manager for the trucking company involved.

“That’s a huge deceleration,” said James, who added the truck stopped “very abruptly” in the north ditch on Highway 16 west of Langham, Sask., on Feb. 22, 2016.

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The driver of the semi-truck, Neale Lensen, didn’t apply the brakes until three seconds after impact, James said.

The vehicle was on cruise control at the time and Lensen previously told the jury he didn’t have time to make a defensive maneuver before the crash.

A former professional firefighter of 14 years, James recalled helping remove a female occupant from Major’s vehicle, which was wedged between the semi-truck cab and the first of its two trailers.

“There was a lot of carnage at the scene,” James said.

READ MORE: Trial begins for Sask. man whose sons, girlfriend died in Highway 16 crash

Major faces three counts each of criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

His girlfriend, 26-year-old Kimberly Oliverio, was pronounced dead at the scene, as were two of Major’s sons: nine-year-old Theodore Cardinal and four-year-old Brenden Major.

None of the seven people riding in the overloaded pickup truck were wearing seat belts, according to the Crown.

Kimberly Oliverio, 26, Theodore Cardinal, 9, and Brenden Major, 4, died in a crash on Highway 16 on Feb. 22, 2016. Facebook

RCMP collision reconstructionist Cpl. Douglas Green arrived on scene around 7:55 a.m., roughly 90 minutes after the crash. As the highest-ranking officer, he assumed command of the crash site.

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The cab of the pickup was “fully embedded” between the truck and trailer, while the bed was “sheered off of the frame,” he said.

Pictures presented in court showed the pickup truck’s engine ejected from the vehicle and laying in the snow.

The wreckage of the vehicles sat 89 metres from the point of impact, according to Green.

Describing the scene, his voice trembling at times, Green apologized.

“Sorry, it’s kind of bringing back some memories,” he said.

RCMP Const. Gary Pepin was the first officer at the site and said Major appeared visibly injured – not a condition suitable for questioning by police.

The officer noted a downed stop sign at the intersection of Highway 16 and Range Road 3083 and determined it wasn’t knocked down as part of the crash.

The view from Range Road 3083 at Highway 16 near Langham, Sask. Court Exhibit
The view from Range Road 3083 at Highway 16 near Langham, Sask. Court Exhibit
The view from Range Road 3083 at Highway 16 near Langham, Sask. Court Exhibit
The view from Range Road 3083 at Highway 16 near Langham, Sask. Court Exhibit

After the stop sign was replaced, Pepin made a video of the grid road approaching the highway under early morning darkness comparable to what Major would’ve experienced.

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Under cross-examination, he disagreed with the defence’s statement that the stop sign is the single most visible identifier in the area.

The officer said the sign for the adjacent farm trade show, Ag in Motion, was the most visible thing.

READ MORE: The role of a collision reconstructionist

During his opening statement Monday, Crown prosecutor Michael Pilon argued the stop sign played a “small role” in the crash.

The Crown stated Major was using his cell phone and travelling more than 55 kilometres above the speed limit before the crash happened.

The trial is scheduled to conclude Jan. 25.

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