A Wyoming firefighter charged after an accident in a snowstorm on the 402 will go to trial while his lawyer claim abuse of the court process.
And several professional associations are offering to help him beat the charge.
Last March, Neil Bain was driving one of two fire trucks on the way to an accident on the highway in the middle of a snowstorm. The firefighters were doing an estimated 40 km per hour in the blinding snow when they were caught up in a multi-vehicle collision.
Bain’s wrist was broken and four other firefighters were injured in the crash.
Bain was charged with careless driving in the accident. That charge was met with anger with the Fire Chief suggesting the charge was politically motivated. Local politicians had been voicing concern about the maintenance along the stretch of highway after a number of multi-vehicle crashes.
Mike Vasey and several associations representing volunteer firefighters also voiced concern about the precedent being set by charging a volunteer while on duty.
The crown and Bain’s lawyer, Ian Bruce, met with the judge for about 40-minutes. Firefighters and Bain were hopeful the charge would be thrown out for lack of evidence. But that wasn’t to be.
Bain, surrounded by about 15 firefighters in uniform and family members, looked shocked when he heard a trial would start Nov. 23.
Bain’s lawyer hasn’t given up on having the charges dropped. He told the judge he would be filing a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms claiming abuse of the court process.
“Anyone who analyses the facts would say the facts do not support a conviction,” Bruce told The Independent. “There is a strong likelihood the charge will be dismissed, whether that happens after a trial or before remains to be seen.
“We’re asking the court to apply common sense. They know all the evidence. They know there is not going to be a conviction, why go through that process?”
Fire Chief Mike Vasey, who was in court supporting Bain, says the news is disappointing.
“This has been an extreme hardship on the family,” he says noting no other driver was charged in the pile up and another driver who ran into a police cruiser was not charged.
“They stay at home and don’t go out; they don’t go for dinner anymore because it is all people want to talk about,” says Vasey. “Everyone is very supportive…but everyday, you can’t get away from it.”
Vasey says both the Firefighters’ Association of Ontario and the Ontario Fire Chiefs’ Association have expressed a willingness to help with the legal battle. “They want to put their legal teams on it and help out anyway they can because of the huge ramifications of this across the province,” he says.