A Langley Mountie has been found 80 per cent responsible for a high speed crash with a Calgary family while he was responding to a 911 call about a man with a gun.
Const. Chad Gorman received a priority one alert on his radio on the afternoon of July 22, 2014. The top-priority call was about a 911 report of a man being chased by someone with a gun.
Gorman sped to Fraser Highway and headed west through Aldergrove, with lights and sirens on, reaching a speed of 147 km/h, according to the Tuesday ruling of Justice Bruce Butler in B.C. Supreme Court.
The Meghji family of Calgary were in the same area, looking for a local antique car museum. Shiraz Meghji, his wife Shelina, and his 18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son had been crossing B.C. in their family camper van on the way to Vancouver.
When Shiraz drove from 268th across Fraser Highway, Gorman’s cruiser slammed into the van, flipping it on its side and destroying both vehicles.
“Somewhat miraculously, no one was killed,” wrote Butler. “All five people suffered injuries, but they were able to walk away from the accident.”
All five people were taken to the hospital but released that day or the next.
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Several witnesses reported not hearing Gorman’s siren as he approached the intersection, Butler noted. The judge found that Gorman had turned on the siren, but that witnesses couldn’t tell it apart from that of another RCMP cruiser that was just ahead of Gorman, responding to the same call.
Lawyers for Gorman and B.C.’s Solicitor General – which regulates policing – argued that Shiraz Meghji was entirely at fault, and should have given the right of way to Gorman’s cruiser, with its lights and sirens blaring.
Meghji’s lawyers argued that Gorman was traveling at excessive speed at mid-day in a busy area where the speed limit was just 60 km/h.
While Butler found Meghji’s decision to drive through the intersection was negligent, he placed more fault on the RCMP officer.
“He [Gorman] chose to travel at such a high speed because he was responding to a Priority One call,” wrote Butler. “However, the fact that it was a very high priority emergency response situation does not give an officer the privilege of travelling at a speed that creates an unreasonable risk to the public.”
Gorman failed to balance the needs of responding to the emergency with his responsibility to public safety, Butler ruled.
“Mr. Meghji’s departure from a reasonable standard of care was much less,” Butler wrote, “he failed to proceed with sufficient care as he drove through the intersection.”
Because Gorman was acting in his role as a police officer, he is not liable, and liability for the crash lies with the Ministry of Public Safety and the Solicitor General.
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