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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Andrew Swanson was arrested Wednesday after he was wanted for an alleged choking assault and for obstructing police. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police arrest Andrew Swanson on warrants for alleged choking assault, obstruction

A member of the public spotted Swanson and called 911 before police came and made the arrest

(Black Press Media file photo)
Youth sustains minor injuries in stabbing at Saanich Plaza

Suspect under age of 16 taken into custody, no risk to the public, police say

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
West Shore proud owners of B.C.’s first electric school bus

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

With the help of a $110,000 federal grant, Saanich will be adding 22 new EV chargers for its municipal fleet to reduce emissions from district operations. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich adds 22 new EV chargers for municipal fleet to reduce corporate emissions

Federal grant adds $110,000 jolt to project, installation to be completed fall 2022

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports 1st vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Most Read