Burlington Skyway crash: Driver to plead not guilty
Sukhvinder Singh Rai, 34, had his licence suspended for 90 days after incident
The lawyer for the Brampton man who caused traffic mayhem earlier this month when he drove a dump truck with the bucket raised into the Burlington Skyway says his client plans to plead not guilty.
"Right now we’ll start with the assumption he’s pleading not guilty and we’ll go from there," said Toronto-based lawyer David Locke outside a Hamilton courthouse Friday morning.
Sukhvinder Singh Rai, 34, did not appear in court Friday as his lawyer was just receiving initial disclosure in the case, which includes witness and police statements. It takes three to four weeks to go through those statements, Locke said.
"We’re not getting into any details right now. We want to see what the allegations are and take it from there," he said. "He and his family are taking this matter very seriously."
"He’s very upset right now with this whole unfortunate situation and he’s going to deal with it as best he can."
Temporary fix 'performing well,' ministry says
Rai is charged with one count of impaired operation of a motor vehicle and one count of blood alcohol level exceeding 80 milligrams while operating a motor vehicle. He has been released from custody since the incident.
You’re ruining everything else because some bozo is up there driving around hammered out of his mind – allegedly, I guess.- Steve Panchuk, truck driver
Locke would not say specifically if Rai is living at home or is currently in a treatment facility of any kind.
"He’s currently in the community," he said, adding that Rai is not working "right now" but he "expects to be working soon."
Rai's licence was automatically suspended for 90 days after charges were laid.
The collision happened at 3:40 p.m. on July 31, on a day with clear skies. No one was injured. New pavement was laid down during the four-day closure, and a temporary beam is currently in place on the Skyway. A new beam is expected in less than two months. Ministry of Transportation officials say they are monitoring the temporary beam, and it is "performing well."
Steve Panchuk is a 15-year veteran of the trucking industry from Brampton, and he went to Hamilton's John Sopinka courthouse Friday morning just to see for himself what's happening with the case.
"I’m angry because it gives everybody a bad name," Panchuk said. "The first thing the ministry does is start stopping every truck on the road, checking licences, insurance, paperwork, hours of work, you’re ruining everything else because some bozo is up there driving around hammered out of his mind – allegedly, I guess.
"It gives everybody a bad name and paints everybody with a bad brush."
Panchuk says many in his industry are still talking about the crash — and they're not happy. "There are a lot of good guys out there," he said. "But there are also a lot of fly-by-night people who are badly trained, no training at all. I don’t know how they got their licence and where they got their licence."
The Toronto-bound lanes of the Skyway carry an average of 75,000 cars daily. The collision forced the closure of the Toronto-bound lanes during the August long weekend, forcing cars to go either around or directly through Hamilton's core.
Previously, the longest Skyway closure was 12 hours and 11 minutes, a result of severe winds, lightning and scaffolding that fell onto Eastport Drive from the Skyway.