SIU clear OPP officer following May collision in Selwyn Township

Click to play video: 'Collision closes Buckhorn Road in Selwyn Township'
Collision closes Buckhorn Road in Selwyn Township
A section of Buckhorn Road in Selwyn Township is closed on Friday morning following a serious collision. Peterborough County OPP have closed the road between 11th Line and Selwyn Road. An Ornge air ambulance transported one person from the scene – May 20, 2022

Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit says an OPP officer has been cleared of any wrongdoing following a two-vehicle head-on collision in Selwyn Township north of Peterborough on May 20.

In his report issued Friday, SIU director Joseph Martino reported the collision saw three people suffer serious injuries.

Martino said that on the morning of May 20, a man driving an Audi S3 with a woman passenger was travelling southbound on Buckhorn Road from Line Road 17. Martino said the journey southbound included passing several vehicles in the northbound lane, including a school bus.

The director said the vehicle’s driving “caught the attention” of an off-duty OPP officer who was in an unmarked police pickup truck also travelling southbound.

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The officer began to pursue the suspect vehicle, passing vehicles in the single southbound lane.

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“About a couple of hundred metres north of 11 Line, unable to re-enter the southbound lane after passing one or more vehicles, the Audi collided head-on with a northbound motorist,” the report states.

The driver of the Audi suffered a serious injury while the woman suffered multiple fractures. A three-year-old child in the other vehicle suffered a fractured arm, Martino said.

The SIU determined the Audi reached speeds of 165 km/h just seconds before the collision and between 137 km/h to 154 km/h on impact. The northbound car was travelling 86 km/h prior to the collision and around 54 km/h to 58 km/h on impact.

“The Airbag Control Module analysis also showed there was no braking from the driver of the Audi until approximately 0.5 seconds prior to the collision, and that the driver of the Dodge began to apply the brakes about 1.3 seconds prior to the collision,” Martino said.

Martino said the investigation by the SIU determined there was “no basis” for proceeding with charges against the officer in the incident but added his actions were “under scrutiny” since he did pass the same school bus to pursue the Audi and chased a vehicle in an unmarked police vehicle, which is against OPP policy.

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“The subject officer (SO), as witness to complainant No. 1’s aggressive driving, was arguably within his rights under the regulation governing police pursuits in pursuing the Audi for the purpose, as he indicated in post-incident utterances to another individual at the scene, of ascertaining the vehicle’s licence plate marker,” Martino said.

“Whether the SO ought to have discontinued the pursuit at some point earlier than the collision is also arguable given (the complainant’s) risky driving. Be that as it may, there is no evidence of third-party motorists having had to take evasive action to avoid the officer’s vehicle. Nor is there reliable evidence that the SO left Complainant No. 1 no option other than to continue to dangerously pass other vehicles.”

Martino concluded that when weighing the officer’s indiscretions and the extenuating considerations, he was unable to reasonably conclude that the officer “transgressed the limits of care prescribed by the criminal law.”

The SIU is an independent agency that investigates the conduct of officers in incidents that have resulted in civilian death, serious injury, or alleged sexual assault.

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