A Richmond Hill teenager who was behind the wheel of his father’s Mercedes-Benz when he struck and killed two siblings and injured their neighbour in the driveway of their Vaughan home in May has pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
The teenager, who can only be identified by his initials C.Z., was 16-years-old at the time and cannot be identified due to youth laws.
Wearing a blue dress shirt and a blue tie, the boy, who’s been out on $300,000 bail living under house arrest since shortly after the collision, indicated he understood he was waiving his right to a trial.
C.Z., appearing via Zoom, had a blank stare on his face and otherwise showed no emotion, unlike at his bail hearing on May 26 when he cried periodically.
According to facts reads out by the Crown, around noon on May 16, 10-year-old Anaya four-year-old Jax Chaudhari were on the driveway of their home on Athabasca Drive, along with their 60-year-old neighbour.
The weather was clear and dry.
The posted speed limit was 40 km/h. That’s when the 16-year-old who had turned onto Athabasca Drive and was heading towards his girlfriend’s house, began to accelerate quickly.
Driving in a westerly direction, C.Z. encountered a curb, lost control as he attempted to negotiate a turn, and began travelling along the lawn next to the Chaudhari’s home.
He then drove through a hedge and onto the driveway, striking Anaya, Jax and the neighbour. None had time to take evasive action.
The 2017 Mercedes sedan continued travelling across a neighbour’s lawn, before it struck a transformer and retaining wall where the car came to a stop.
The 16-year-old driver made several utterances which were overheard along the lines of: “the car had locked up and he could not steer it”, “he said he dropped his wallet and was reaching for it when he lost control” and “something was wrong with the brakes.”
C.Z.’s lawyer Seth Weinstein disagreed with that fact saying his client does not remember making that statement.
Jax died later that day. His sister Anaya died the next day. Both died from multiple blunt force traumas.
Court heard the 60-year-old neighbour who was helping the children with their bikes suffered a severe laceration to his arm and a broken knee.
To this day, he has two plates in his knee and may need a knee replacement.
He also cannot move his knee without pain and it may be years before he can do so. He also has ongoing physiotherapy twice a week.
A mechanical inspection of the Mercedes found there were no issues with the brakes and the accelerator had been fully deployed until half-a-second before hitting the curb.
A technical collision investigation report determined that the vehicle was travelling at 102 km/h during the 13-27 metres before striking the curb and leaving the roadway.
This speed was determined with reference to the Airbag Control Module, which provides information about the vehicle’s operation in the final seconds before the collision.
That report also determined that the maximum theoretical speed at which the vehicle could safely negotiate the curb, also known as the critical curb speed was 82.7-83.9 km/hr.
The report also found the sun was overhead and would not have provided a glare.
Weinstein told the court that one plausible explanation for the fact that the teen did not brake is that “rather than braking, he accidentally pressed the accelerator.”
Weinstein told the judge that his explanation was not being offered as a defence.
“My position is that he’s nonetheless liable. He was travelling in excess of the critical curb speed of 84 km/hr. A marked departured from the standard of care of a reasonable person.”
The Crown said it’s position is that the collision was inevitable, given C.Z. had passed the critical speed.
Surveillance video was also played in court showing the speeding Mercedes accelerating down the quiet residential street before a number of loud bangs could be heard.
C.Z. will be back in court in a week’s time so a date for sentencing can be set. A pre-sentence report was also ordered. It’s expected a sentencing hearing will be held in February.
C.Z. was originally charged with six counts including two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. It’s expected the other charges will be withdrawn.