Zopkios Brake Check on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack was seen entering the brake check with smoking brakes on Aug. 5, 2016, just before a multi-vehicle crash further down the road, but he was acquitted of criminal negligence by a judge in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on May 3, 2021. (GoogleMaps)

Zopkios Brake Check on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack was seen entering the brake check with smoking brakes on Aug. 5, 2016, just before a multi-vehicle crash further down the road, but he was acquitted of criminal negligence by a judge in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on May 3, 2021. (GoogleMaps)

Truck driver acquitted of criminal negligence in 2016 multi-vehicle Coquihalla crash

Judge finds Roy McCormack’s actions or inactions did not meet the threshold of criminal negligence

The truck driver whose brakes failed on a steep stretch of the Coquihalla in 2016 leading to a multi-vehicle crash causing several serious injuries was found not guilty of criminal negligence in BC Supreme Court on Monday (May 3).

Crown counsel argued that the fact that Roy McCormack’s did not conduct a thorough inspection of his truck and trailer after seeing his brakes smoking and before descending the steepest hill on the most dangerous highway in Canada showed a “wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives.”

McCormack went to trial charged with eight counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle after he was involved in the crash multi-vehicle on that clear summer day in August 2016.

But Justice Peter Edelmann said that while McCormack’s actions may have been negligent, the Crown’s case did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his actions reached the level of criminal negligence.

READ MORE: Truck driver facing 8 counts of criminal negligence for 2016 Coquihalla crash

READ MORE:Truck driver charged in Coquihalla crash showed ‘wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives’: Crown

“There is little question the brakes were not working properly,” Edelmann read as part of his decision, pointing out that an inspector later found five out of six brakes were not functinoal.

“The central issue is whether the accused failed to check the brakes properly and if doing so was a marked departure from the conduct of a reasonably prudent person.”

McCormack was driving a truck pulling a trailer he had picked up at Roger’s Pass. As the only witness for the defence, McCormack told a confusing story with contradictory statements about what time he left, when he arrived in Kamloops, and why he falsified log book entries.

He conceded that his brakes were smoking at some point, but that it was only when he was on a steep section of highway and that when he found a better gear for descent, they stopped. But soon after leaving the Zopkios Brake Check and when he was at or near the Great Bear Snowshed he lost all braking. His truck plowed into several vehicles stopped for construction, injuring eight people, all named in the charges against him.

One of the main contentious items in the case was whether or not McCormack even stopped at the Zopkios Brake Check after seeing his smoking brakes. Truck drivers are required to stop at all brake checks, so Justice Edelmann said that if he had passed Zopkios, McCormack would have been guilty of criminal negligence.

There were three witnesses testifying to this point: McCormack himself who was unreliable and contradictory; a female driver who was passed by McCormack on the highway more than once; and a fellow truck driver named Gary Enns.

Edelmann found the female driver’s testimony to be not reliable enough to conclude for certain that McCormack did not stop at Zopkios.

As for Enns, he made a statement that the court relied upon saying that McCormack’s truck sped past him at Zopkios and it was smoking heavily. He did not testify at the trial because he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Edelmann said because of this disease that affects memory, and having no evidence before him as to the state of the witness when he made his statement, he could not give it enough weight to convict.

“It is simply not clear before me the state of Mr. Enns’ memory at the time of making the statement,” Edelmann said.

“I find the accused not guilty.”

Upon hearing the decision, McCormack thrust his hands into the air in his seat at the back of the courtroom. He stood up, lowered his mask and thanked the judge.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
editor@theprogress.com

@TheProgress
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Crews work to repair Horsefly Road east of Williams Lake . (Ministry of Transportation video)
MoTI activates district operations centre, response to flood damaged roads in Cariboo region

Engineers, experts being pulled from across the province to help

Jean Atkinson of Richbar Golf and Gardens says maple trees are the most popular shade tree sold by the nursery. (Black Press File Photo)
GARDENING WEEK: Maple trees provide shade, piece of Canadiana

Jean Atkinson from Quesnel’s Richbar Golf and Gardens says maples are their most popular shade tree

Health-care workers wave to people clapping and yelling thank you to the frontline workers during the 7pm tribute outside the Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 8, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
COLUMN: Front-line workers bearing mental strain of pandemic

Cassidy Dankochik’s column as seen in the May 12 edition of the Quesnel Cariboo Observer

Fraser River GM stopped by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Quesnel with a donation of 500 face masks Friday, May 7. (Fraser River Chevrolet Facebook photo)
Quesnel vehicle dealership helps mask those in need

1,000 face masks donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters and Salvation Army

Correlieu Secondary School made the announcement on their Facebook page. (file photo).
COVID-19 case detected at Correlieu Secondary School in Quesnel

This case marks the seventh time COVID-19 has been detected in the Quesnel School District

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Dr. Steve Beerman, of Nanaimo, shows off his Dr. David Bishop Gold Medal, awarded for distinguished medical service. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

Former UFV Cascades wrestling coach Arjan Singh Bhullar is now the ONE heavyweight champion after defeating Brandon Vera via TKO in round two on Saturday in Singapore. (ONE Championship)
Former UFV wrestling coach wins MMA championship

Arjan Singh Bhullar captures ONE heavyweight title, first Indian origin fighter to achieve honour

Most Read