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‘Incredulous’: Parents seek justice after son injured in motorcycle collision with off-duty officer

Click to play video: 'Trial wrapping up for off-duty police officer charged after collision leaves man with life-altering injuries' Trial wrapping up for off-duty police officer charged after collision leaves man with life-altering injuries
WATCH: Trial wrapping up for off-duty police officer charged after collision leaves man with life-altering injuries – Jun 24, 2022

Doris and Vern Sweeney say their son is “trying to move on” after he was struck by a vehicle while riding his motorcycle in 2019, resulting in part of his leg being amputated.

“He is trying to move on, but it is very difficult,” Doris Sweeney told Global News through tears. “His whole life, his whole trajectory has changed.”

Stuart was thrown from his motorcycle on Sept. 29, 2019, after he was sideswiped by a vehicle along Highway 7 at York-Durham Line.

Read more: Motorcyclist dead after collision involving bus in Vaughan: police

Vern, Stuart’s father, said he was “thrown into the ditch.”

“Many meters deep into the ditch,” Vernon Sweeney said. “As he lay there, realizing what had happened, he thought, well, somebody’s gonna come and get me.”

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However, at trial, Stuart testified to a judge that no one came to help.

Instead, he managed to call 9-1-1 on his own.

Vern said he remained on the call for several minutes, pleading for help and trying to direct emergency crews to where he was laying.

Stuart, who was 23 years old at the time of the accident, spent four months in hospital and had his left leg amputated above the knee.

His arm was also shattered, requiring two very lengthy surgeries to be reconstructed, Doris said.

Stuart Sweeney had part of his left leg amputated after he was struck by a vehicle while riding his motorcycle along Highway 7.
Stuart Sweeney had part of his left leg amputated after he was struck by a vehicle while riding his motorcycle along Highway 7. Provided

Nathan Coates, an off-duty York Regional Police officer, has been charged in connection with the collision.

According to police, he stopped 3.8 km from the scene.

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The Nissan Pathfinder he was driving was missing a headlight, a side mirror and had a damaged wheel.

An off-duty tow truck driver came upon Coates and the vehicle and contacted police.

The tow truck driver testified in court that he thought Coates’ behaviour was “bizarre,” and that his answers were all over the place.

He told court that Coates knew the collision had occurred, but said it was because Sweeney had been driving with his high-beams on.

Doris said she and Vernon were “incredulous” when they found out a police officer had been charged in connection with hitting their son.

“We couldn’t believe that someone who is hired to protect the public, someone who rides around in a car that says ‘deeds speak,’ could hit someone, leave them in the ditch and proceed on their way for another 3.8 km, without any call to 9-1-1, even after he was told about what had happened — we completely couldn’t believe it,” she said.

Coates was originally charged with impaired driving, impaired driving causing bodily harm, dangerous driving causing bodily harm and failing to stop after an accident.

However, the judge threw out the impaired driving charge and the breath sample that was collected after Coates’ defence lawyers argued his Charter Rights had been violated.

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Read more: Nearly 3,000 tickets issued during week-long Toronto police road safety campaign

The accused has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Coates’ lawyers argues that he suffered a concussion during the collision, which caused him not to appreciate what he was doing, or where he was.

The Crown argued that Coates was seeking an escape from the collision, and knew he was speeding, distracted and likely impaired.

Court heard at the time of the crash, the accused was driving 30 km/h over the posted speed limit.

The speed limit in the area is 70 km/h.

The judge has reserved his decision until September. Coates remains on paid suspension, pending the outcome of the trial.

Doris said Stuart wants the family to move on from the incident.

“The whole experience has been extremely difficult for the entire family — primarily, of course, for Stuart,” she said. “He doesn’t want us to be hurt any more than we already are, or have been.”

However, Doris said that’s “not likely to happen.”

“Because he’s our baby, even though he’s a man,” She said.

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Vern said the family is very proud of Stuart, calling him a “hero” and adding that he is back to climbing.

“He is moving forward and we’re so proud,” he said.

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