Justice of the Peace Charles W. Anderson dismissed a careless driving charge against Heather Ormerod resulting from a collision on August 10, 2010 at John St S and Forest Ave that left a 58-year-old cyclist unconscious with severe head injuries. The cyclist died August 18, 2010 after being taken off life support.

Justice of the Peace Anderson found the collision was not reasonably the fault of the defendant. The defendent stated she was forced to stop partially in the intersection due to a parked car on the east side of Forest that opened it’s driver-side door.

“This unfortunate collision was a result of a number of circumstances that have rendered themselves to be that of a “perfect storm” that resulted in the collision with the defendant’s van – if the defendant wasn’t forced to stop to allow another person to close their door of their vehicle,” wrote Justice of the Peace Anderson in concluding his ruling and dismissing the charge.

Justice of the Peace Anderson’s closing section explains his reasoning:

  1. Did the defendant’s actions during the crossing of John Street constitute “undue care and attention or reasonable consideration for others” as outlined in careless driving?

The leading case in Careless driving is R. vs. Beauchamp that held the the standard of care and skill to be applied is not that of perfection.  A driver is required to exercise a reasonable amount of skill and to do what an ordinary prudent person would do in the circumstances.  In this case, the defendant outlined what she did when facing the stop sign at Forrest Avenue and John Street.  She didn’t try to beat traffic across the four lanes of John Street, but rather something unforeseen came up in her path that required her to stop her course of travel to wait for another driver to close their door to allow passage through.  She advised the court she did not see any cyclist when she was travelling across the four lanes of traffic.  If the witnesses were accurate in their speed estimates, the cyclist would be traveling at approximately 44 feet per second at 50 km/hr.  Given that speed estimate, the distinct possibility the cyclist was not in the field of vision of the defendant at that time.  No one could foresee a cyclist traveling down a hill at a high rate of speed in a vehicle was not prepared to stop, wobbling, and the driver himself was not wearing a proper helmet.  This unfortunate collision was a result of a number of circumstances that have rendered themselves to be that of a “perfect storm” that resulted in the collision with the defendant’s van – if the defendant wasn’t forced to stop to allow another person to close their door of their vehicle.

Given all the evidence presented before this court, the court is not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant’s driving actions were careless  and the matter is dismissed.