A tour bus driver whose momentary inattention resulted in a fatal crash at Canada Place on Vancouver’s waterfront has been fined $1,800.
On Aug. 13, 2017, Patrick Gerard Campbell had just picked up a number of passengers in his bus when he noticed the vehicle tilting to the right, causing the front door to contact the sidewalk.
He told a tour coordinator that he was going to “put air into the bus” and moved the bus slightly forward and away from the curb.
While he was apparently focused on the door, the vehicle rolled 13.9 metres, hitting the rear of a rental vehicle.
The Plevyak and Aulakh families were at the curb in front of the bus and in the process of getting into the rental vehicle.
Manjit Aulakh became trapped under the bus, Dr. Michael Plevyak, an obstetrician from Massachusetts, became entrapped in the front wheel well of the bus and Raina Plevyak was pinned between the bus and a concrete pillar.
Michael Plevyak, 49, died of his injuries. Raina Plevyak suffered fractures to her pelvis, a permanent injury to her thigh and scarring to her right leg. Aulakh suffered multiple fractures to both hands, a partial loss of a finger, crush injuries to his bladder, a punctured lung and bruising.
Following an investigation, police concluded that the cause of the accident was Campbell’s failure to recognize that he had not fully stopped the bus.
Campbell, 64, pleaded guilty to the motor vehicle offence of driving without due care and attention.
“In the circumstances, I find that Mr. Campbell’s inattention was momentary and it occurred at a time where he likely believed that the bus was stopped,” said provincial court Judge Reginald Harris. “In my view, this is significantly different than a person who fails to pay attention while engaged in the full process of driving.”
In his ruling, Harris said he had read each victim impact statement several times.
“It is clear that the joy and happiness embraced by the Aulakh and Plevyak families has been lost. They now struggle with grief, emptiness and the profound changes they have experienced. The emotional scars will be with the families for all time.”
The judge noted that the collision had a “significant” impact on Campbell, who suffers from emotional trauma and has symptoms including anxiety, frustration, flashbacks and something Campbell described as “mental fog.”
Campbell has been unable to work since the accident, is on disability benefits and has no interest in returning to work as a driver.
The single dad, who has an 18-year-old son suffering from depression, had no prior criminal record and sobbed during the court hearing.
“Mr. Campbell’s actions and words satisfy me that he is deeply remorseful,” said the judge. “In the words of counsel, ‘No punishment can be greater than the one he imposes on himself.’”
The Crown and the defence agreed that a fine of $1,800, at the high end of the range for fines imposed in similar cases, was a fit sentence, a submission accepted by the judge.
The Crown also called for a six to 12 month driving prohibition, a submission that was opposed by Campbell’s lawyer who argued that such a ban would cause Campbell hardship and was not warranted in the circumstances.
The judge concluded that a ban was not necessary because the public did not need to be protected from Campbell and a driving prohibition was not necessary to achieve deterrence as it had already been reached in part by the higher fine and through the process itself.
A prohibition would also have unintended consequences on Mr. Campbell’s eventual search for work and his ability to care for his son, said the judge.