Thunder Bay

Jail time for owner of trucking company involved in fatal crash

The court found the owner and president of ABI Trucking knowingly permitted drivers to ignore provincial regulations prescribing the maximum number of hours a driver can work without a break and the minimum number of hours a driver must rest before resuming driving.
A judge in Sault Ste. Marie rejected the defence's call to hand a conditional sentence to Thunder Bay trucking company owner Ian Fummerton. She sentenced Fummerton to six months in jail.

The owner of a Thunder Bay, Ont., trucking company has been sentenced to six months in jail in connection with a collision that killed an off-duty police officer.

Ian Fummerton pleaded guilty to being a party to dangerous driving.

The court found Fummerton, the owner and president of ABI Trucking, knowingly permitted drivers to ignore provincial regulations concerning the maximum number of hours a driver can work without a break and the minimum number of hours a driver must rest before resuming driving.

It also found that Fummerton gave drivers the tools they needed to falsify log books to conceal the practice.  

On Feb. 13, 2014, a transport truck operated by ABI was involved in a fatal collision on Highway 17 east of Blind River.   

The crash killed an off-duty Ontario Provincial Police officer.  

Investigators examining the engine control module of the transport found that, from Feb. 9 to Feb. 13, it never stopped being driven for a period of greater than 5.5 hours.  

Tip leads to investigation

Provincial regulations prohibit drivers of commercial vehicles from driving more than 13 hours between eight-hour off-duty periods. 

Investigators also determined that the truck's brake and clutch were never engaged throughout the accident, and that the throttle position was essentially at 100 per cent all the way through the event and after impact.  

Police began investigating ABI's practices after a former employee, upon learning of the collision, told OPP officers that ABI drivers sometimes drove from Thunder Bay to Toronto and back with little or no sleep.

According to court documents, police found that the driver involved in the collision sometimes completed the Thunder Bay-Toronto-Thunder Bay route as a single driver within 48 hours, that he did not take the provincially-required rest periods, and that he maintained two daily log books, deliberately falsifying his logs including his on-duty, off-duty and driving status.

He "prepared one set of logs reporting that he was driving solely from Thunder Bay to Sudbury and back with a required break in Sudbury ... and another set of logs reporting that he was driving from Sudbury to Mississauga,'" the court found.

Need for deterrence and denunciation 

Fummerton knew he was employing drivers who were willing to breach the regulations and falsify log books to conceal the practice, Justice Annalisa Rasaiah wrote in her reasons for sentence. 

"The evidence supports that Mr. Fummerton provided the drivers with the tools and ability to engage in this practice. He provided two log books and repeatedly paid the drivers for making these single driver delivery runs."

Rasaiah rejected the defence's call for a conditional sentence in the case, citing a need for deterrence and denunciation. 

"It is necessary to make it clear to all persons in Mr. Fummerton's position that they have a serious obligation to put the safety of their drivers and the public before their economic interests," she wrote.

"It needs to be made clear to persons such as Mr. Fummerton that calculated non-compliance that can lead to terrible consequences for innocent users of the highways will not be tolerated."