Criminal charges against a Vaughan-based construction company related to last year’s crash that killed six young people in south-end Barrie are focused on what safety measures were in place around the large concrete hole into which their vehicle plummeted, according to court documents.
Barrie police announced Friday it had charged Condrain Company (1983) Ltd. with six counts of criminal negligence causing death, contrary to Section 220(b) of the Criminal Code of Canada, following a months-long investigation by the major crime unit.
Court documents allege the company failed to "properly sign and barricade the temporary road closure of McKay Road between County Road 27 and Veterans Drive as per the traffic management plan and contract with Erritt Construction Ltd.”
The allegations have not been tested in court.
The company is expected to appear in Barrie court on Feb. 13. The company has not responded to requests for comment.
The crash claimed the lives of Haley Marin, Curtis King, Luke West, Jersey Mitchell, River Wells and Jason Ono-O’Connor, all of whom were in their early 20s.
According to a family member of one of the victims, the car they were in drove into a deep hole — referred to by the city as a “tunnel access shaft” related to the residential development happening in the area — and then caught fire.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, at approximately 2 a.m., while conducting a missing persons investigation, police officers checked the construction zone and located a vehicle in a hole in the middle of McKay Road. No one in the vehicle survived.
Investigators soon determined the deadly wreck happened sometime shortly after 6 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022.
With criminal charges being laid last week, Barrie police communications co-ordinator Peter Leon said the investigation is now complete.
“With many investigations, this is the end result before any court-related process,” Leon said on Monday. “If any information comes forward after the laying of charges takes place, it will still be investigated and may form any future judicial proceeding.”
Leon declined to elaborate on how investigators determined criminal charges would be laid, saying only that police will utilize any and all resources that are available to them.
“These resources form part of the investigation and are not something that we will discuss. They are evidentiary and will be presented as the case proceeds through the upcoming judicial process,” he added.
BarrieToday asked what other information has been looked at as part of the investigation, and if any toxicology reports had been completed.
"The results of the toxicology belong to the coroner and details specific to the investigation conducted by the coroner have been shared with investigators from the Barrie police major crime unit,” Leon said. “In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, we will not speak to this issue.”
A spokesperson for the Office of the Chief Coroner has said it does not release information regarding death investigations publicly, but rather only provide to immediate next-of-kin.
News of criminal charges being laid on Friday came 4-1/2 months after what Leon called a “complex investigation that focused on the death of six young members of our community.”
Many questions have been raised about the length of the investigation and what it has uncovered.
“Firstly, we recognize that the deaths have impacted family, friends, our community and all the first-responders who were involved at the scene and the days that followed," Leon said. "This investigation is one of the largest undertaken by our service in recent times and since the victims cannot tell us what happened, we must determine the events which led up to their deaths.
“This takes time and we owe it to the victims and their families to do it properly and in accordance with accepted investigative processes," he added.
The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development previously said that, after issuing three requirements and three orders to Condrain, its investigation was completed last September.
“The scope of the ministry’s investigation focused on the application of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and requirements for worker safety at the construction site,” said a spokesperson when asked if the ministry was still involved with the investigation. “No workers were present at the site at the time of the incident.”