Montreal

Police investigating possible negligence by truck driver in fatal Highway 440 collision

An affidavit written by police says the truck driver told officers that he was not using his cell phone at the time of the collision, and that the truck was functioning properly.

Meanwhile, Transport Ministry says it will make adjustments to busy interchange

The accident happened Aug. 5 on Highway 440 westbound when a small car collided with an 18-wheeler near the exit to Highway 15. (Radio-Canada)

Quebec provincial police are investigating whether a truck driver who allegedly failed to brake in traffic was to blame for the deadly collision last week on Highway 440 in Laval. 

According to a police document obtained by Radio-Canada, a truck driver was arrested the day of the accident. He was released without charge early the next morning.

The document is a sworn affidavit filed as part of an application for a search warrant. It quotes a witness saying the truck did not brake as it approached the backed-up right lane on Highway 440 on August 5.

The truck collided with a car at the exit to Highway 15, resulting in a pileup that involved several other passenger cars and another truck. Four people died, and three were seriously injured.

The affidavit says the truck driver told police that he was not using his cell phone at the time of the collision. It also says the driver told police his truck was functioning properly.

When asked why he did not brake as he approached the exit, the affidavit indicates the driver refused to answer.

The collision left four dead and three seriously injured. (Submitted by Peter Christakos)

Police also say in the affidavit that they obtained dash-cam footage from a driver who was following the truck, but the truck is out of view at the moment it collides with the car. 

The affidavit says the brake lights of the cars in the backed-up right lane can be seen, but that as the truck driver continued in that lane he did not press his brakes.

However, the document says the collision can only be heard in the dash-cam video, which CBC News has not seen.

In the sworn statement, a collision expert is quoted saying the video shows an "absence of reaction on the part of the driver."

According to the affidavit, the driver has been working for the trucking company since May, using the same truck.

"We have reasonable grounds to believe that the offence of criminal negligence causing death was committed," the affidavit reads.

The affidavit contains allegations by police that have not been tested in court. It ends with a request for a warrant allowing police to conduct a mechanical inspection of the truck.

The police investigation into the collision is ongoing.

Transport ministry increasing police presence

On Thursday, Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel announced short-term measures aimed at improving the stretch of highway.

The measures include: 

  • Increasing police presence.

  • Extending a solid line over a distance of about 20 metres to deter drivers from taking the exit at the last minute.

  • Adding new signage in two locations.

  • Adding a mobile photo radar to control the speed of motorists.

Bonnardel said his ministry will look at making other changes to the highway once the provincial police report into the accident is complete.

Many drivers say the configuration of this section of Highway 440 has long been a concern. It is one of the busiest stretches of road in the province, with roughly 300,000 vehicles passing through a day.

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