Cyclists’ death: $2,000 fine
An Austin, Texas man charged in the deaths of a Kirk Hill couple cycling near Thunder Bay almost two years ago has been found guilty of careless driving and fined $2,000.
That verdict was rendered during Jason Maxwell’s trial in Thunder Bay, according to City of Thunder Bay Court Services Supervisor Kathy Dallaire.
Mr. Maxwell, 66, was charged by the Nipigon Ontario Provincial Police Nov. 21, 2013 after Bob Booth, 65, and his wife, Irene, 69, were hit and instantly killed in a multivehicle collision July 23.
The victims, along with 23 other cyclists, were travelling eastbound at about 3 p.m. on the Trans-Canada Highway, west of Nipigon, when they were struck by an eastbound pickup truck, driven by the accused. The truck then hit two westbound motor vehicles.
The Booths had been Glengarry residents for almost 30 years, having moved here from St. Lazare, Québec in the mid-1980s.
Careless driving is a violation of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), and therefore not a criminal offence.
There are two sets of laws (excluding municipal parking bylaws) governing driver behaviour – the HTA, which is meant to regulate traffic, and the Criminal Code, which imposes penalties for incidents causing serious harm and criminal wrongdoing.
Most traffic offences are strict liability, meaning police need only prove the offending party broke the law, whether or not he/she intended to do so or knew they were doing so.
The burden of proof is much higher for criminal offences, which almost always require police to prove criminal intent, or
mens rea – “a guilty mind.” The HTA is, in general, not meant to punish, but rather, to regulate behaviour.
Hence, a charge of careless driving – legally defined as driving “without due care and attention” – does not take into consideration the injuries of victims.