Driver’s actions ‘shocking,’ ‘frightening’
Judge hands Rai jail term, driving ban
The driver of a dump truck whose raised box slammed into the James N. Allan Burlington Bay Skyway two summers ago has been sentenced to one year in jail for dangerous driving.
But Sukhvinder Rai is “seriously considering” an appeal, David Locke, his lawyer, said shortly after his client’s sentencing Monday.
Justice Fred Campling called Rai’s failure to lower the box of his truck before driving on the QEW “shocking and frightening.”
Rai was driving back from the Triple M Metal scrap yard on Parkdale Avenue North to Peel Transport in Brampton when the box slammed into an overhead truss and scaffolding on the Skyway on July 31, 2014.
He’d been driving a dump truck for less than three months.
The collision sent three motorists to hospital with minor injuries, caused $1.2 million in damage to the bridge and snarled traffic during the Civic
But the fallout could have been much worse, Campling said.
“Obviously, it hit the first bridge that it could and we are lucky nobody was seriously hurt or killed as a result.”
Campling didn’t accept Locke’s argument that Rai was disadvantaged by outmoded safety mechanisms on his truck.
That’s like a driver who backs up over a child blaming the car for not having a camera, he said. “Oh, it’s not my fault. I didn’t have a backup camera.”
Rai was the operator of the truck and should have taken care with the box, Campling said. “And you grossly failed to do that.” Campling noted the maximum sentence for dangerous driving is five years. Deputy Crown Todd Norman sought one year while Locke asked for a conditional sentence.
The judge, who opted for one year behind bars, also banned the 36-year-old Brampton man from driving for three years. Rai must pay a $200 victim surcharge, as well. Neatly dressed in a light-blue collared shirt and dark slacks, he declined to say anything through a Punjabi interpreter upon sentencing.
Handcuffed, Rai was led out of the courtroom through a side door by a bailiff.
The judge-only trial, which began on March 2, unfolded with more than one twist.
Rai was acquitted of mischief endangering life because the prosecution hadn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt he’d deliberately driven into the bridge.
Breath samples were also ruled inadmissible because Burlington OPP took them outside the three-hour window stipulated by the Criminal Code. That torpedoed drunk-driving charges. But Monday, Campling noted Rai was convicted of impaired driving in 2008.
And, although the breath test was scuttled, he would consider that an OPP officer smelled booze on Rai as he sat in the cruiser, and that a bottle with alcohol in it was found beside his driver’s seat.
“It’s my view that you are a continuing danger on the road,” the judge told Rai, rejecting Locke’s bid for a conditional sentence that could have involved community service.
Campling agreed with Locke that the criminal proceeding wasn’t the appropriate setting to decide how much restitution, if at all, Rai ought to pay victims of the crash. Some of them could still be compensated through a civil case, he noted.
Outside court, Locke said restitution is up to insurance companies to sort out and noted he knew nothing about any related civil litigation. His client has suffered considerably, he said. “He’s going through a rough time.” Rai, who’s married and has two children, has been working as a labourer in Brampton while on bail.
His client may seek an appeal, which must be launched within 30 days of sentencing.
Damage to the Skyway is seen on July 31, 2014.