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

The Tolko Mill in Kelowna on Feb. 2, 2018. (File)
Tolko receives extension for environmental assessment of defunct Kelowna mill

The extension gives Tolko time to decommission, remove structures at the site

Fun 4 All Pet Resort is closed for two weeks following a COVID-19 outbreak among staff. (Fun 4 All photo)
COVID closes Vernon dog daycare

Two staff members test positive at dog boarding centre

Armstrong Regional Co-op is now taking applications from charities and non-profit groups for proceeds from the 2021 Fuel Good Day event at co-op gas bars in Armstrong, Vernon and Salmon Arm. Fuel Good Day will be Tuesday, Sept. 21. (Black Press - file photo)
Co-op fuels North Okanagan-Shuswap charities, non-profits with cash

Applications being taken for proceeds from 2021 Fuel Good Day event to be held Tuesday, Sept. 21

Bruce Mol has taken his cycling education to Youtube during the pandemic. He explains how to navigate Vernon’s new double-roundabout intersection at 29th and 30th Street in his latest video published May 3, 2021. (Contributed)
VIDEO: Cycling educator shows how to navigate Vernon’s new roundabouts

Bruce Mol demonstrates how cyclists can use the city’s new north-south corridor

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Vanilla flavouring contains goo from beaver butts

Your morning start for Friday, May 7, 2021

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

Junior A team Coquitlam Express is offering all Tri-City residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 a free ticket to one of their games. (Facebook/Coquitlam Express)
B.C. hockey team offering free tickets to hometown fans who get the COVID-19 vaccine

‘We know the only way to get fans back is people getting vaccinated,’ says Express’ general manager Tali Campbell

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s latest COVID-19 restrictions cost thousands of service jobs

Part-time workers set back again by spike in virus spread

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Leaked report shows detailed B.C. COVID-19 data not being released to public

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Abbotsford school board trustee Phil Anderson has stepped down after sharing an offensive image on Facebook. (File photo)
Abbotsford trustee temporarily steps down after sharing post relating COVID masks to slavery

Phil Anderson to receive training to better understand provincial mask mandate after posting picture

B.C. announced the launch of an app May 7 that connects youth struggling with mental health and substance use with “life-saving” social services. (Screen grab)
5 years in the making: Mental health app for youth and children launches in B.C.

The province provided $1.6-million to fund a virtual care platform

Spring Valley Seniors Community long-term care home. (Google)
Three people die as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Kelowna care home

Outbreak was declared at Kelowna’s Spring Valley long-term care home on April 28

Last year, Vernon’s Simolo Customs Ltd. received Transport Canada approval to build its low-speed electric NXT vehicles. (Contributed)
Low-speed electric vehicles given green light for Sicamous roads

Council approves bylaw for zero-emission vehicles

Amazon has announced the creation of five new facilities in B.C., to employ about 2,000 people. (Amazon/Special to Black Press Media)
Amazon adds new facilities in Langley, Pitt Meadows, Delta, Vancouver

The Vancouver port centre will be the first Amazon centre to feature robotics in B.C.

Most Read