Truck driver found guilty of criminal negligence in 2017 pile-up

The multi-vehicle collision that occurred on Highway 401 on May 11, 2017 and claimed the lives of four Kingstonians. Submitted photo.

Dunhill Tabanao has been found guilty of four counts of criminal negligence in the operation of a tractor-trailer unit causing death, and three counts of criminal negligence in the operation of a tractor-trailer unit causing bodily harm. 

Judge Tranmer made the ruling by teleconference on Monday, Jun. 8, 2020. All of the charges arise from a collision that occurred on the 401 Highway in the early hours of May 11, 2017.

The accident involved seven vehicles and killed Kingston residents Pierre Courville, Christine Hanrahan, Mitchell Caird and Zachery MacGregor, all passengers in the same car that burst into flames after impact. Three other individuals, Bradley Binder, Matthew Muenz-Till and Nathan Williams were injured.

The collision occurred around 12:40 AM on May 11, 2017 in the westbound slow driving lane of Highway 401.  The crash occurred just over 2 km west of the Joyceville Road overpass, exit 632, just north and east of Kingston.

According to court documents, the judge heard that the six most westerly vehicles were all proceeding in a stop-and-go manner with the other traffic ahead of them, when Tabanao approached these vehicles from the east in a tractor trailer. Driver and witness Patryck Fijalkowski said the slow-moving vehicles were driving no more than 10 to 15 km/hr when he noticed the 18-wheeler coming up behind him, maintaining a steady speed. He drove off the highway to the shoulder, to avoid the collision. He had just moved out of the way when the 18-wheeler hit the car in front of him.

Patrick Sevigny, the driver of the most westerly positioned tractor-trailer unit involved in the accident, told the court that he spoke to Tabano in the moments after the crash. 

He said Tabano admitted to him in those moments that he had been bent over while driving, trying to pick something up. He also said it was not the first time it had happened and told Sevigny “I’m going to jail.”

Bradley Binder, another truck driver who was also involved in the collision, testified that he heard Tabano admit at the scene of the accident that he had been reaching for his cell phone.

Judge Tranmer concluded that “The evidence in this case proves beyond a reasonable doubt that his driving fits squarely at the highest end of the continuum of criminal blameworthiness.” 

Judge Tranmer added that there would be convictions on all counts.

Samantha Butler-Hassan, Local Journalism Initiative

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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