Stop sign would have prevented Robert Major’s triple-fatal crash: crash expert

Stop sign would have prevented Robert Major’s triple-fatal crash: crash expert

If a stop sign was installed at the end of a Saskatchewan grid road, Robert Major would have never been in a crash that killed his girlfriend and two of his sons, according to a collision expert.

Before closing their case Tuesday, lawyers for Major called witness Malcolm Gibson, a retired Saskatoon police officer who owns Impact Technologies, a private firm which reconstructs crashes.

Court viewed a video showing a stop sign reinstalled at Range Road 3083 and Highway 16, in which Gibson’s business partner called out the distance between a pickup and the sign.

The video was taken mid-trial, on Jan. 17, 2019, between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.

During the simulation, they drove a one-ton Dodge truck, comparable to Major’s Dodge Ram that collided with a westbound semi-truck near Langham, Sask., on Feb. 22, 2016. The crash killed Major’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Kimberly Oliverio and two of his sons: Brenden Major, 4, and Theodore Cardinal, 9. Major, two boys and another man survived the crash.

At 2,300 feet, according to Gibson, Major said he was able to see the stop sign. At that distance, Major would have had 11.5 seconds to stop at the sign, Gibson said.

“Would I expect 99.9 per cent of people to be able to able to react in 11.5 seconds to a stop sign, if necessary, to come to a stop? Yes I would,” Gibson said.

He also called the stop the single clearest reference point at the intersection, though he agreed the video showed the reflection of four other highway signs.

Gibson concluded if the stop sign was in place in the early morning darkness in February 2016, the crash would have been averted.

Crown prosecutor Michael Pilon called the conclusion “bold” and based on “one giant assumption.”

Kimberly Oliverio, 26, Theodore Cardinal, 9, and Brenden Major, 4, died in a crash on Highway 16 on Feb. 22, 2016.

Pilon argued the stop sign had nothing to do with Major’s truck travelling 57 kilometres above the speed limit, his attentiveness behind the wheel or the seven people in his vehicle not wearing seat belts.

“When vehicles approach intersections that don’t have signs, the law still requires that you yield to traffic coming from the right,” Pilon said.

Major previously testified that he didn’t see the highway because the stop sign was knocked over. Major said he’d taken the route about ten times before the crash.

The highway itself should have been visible at 90 metres, Gibson testified.

Gibson also noted elevation changes from Range Road 3083 to Highway 16, testifying “it seemed to be anything but a flat intersection.”

Under cross-examination, Gibson acknowledged that he never measured the difference in elevation.

According to the Crown, a report filed by RCMP reconstructionist Cpl. Douglas Green noted the change in elevation ranged from zero per cent to 0.5 per cent.

The driver is accused of three counts each of dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday. Major’s fate will ultimately be in the hands of a jury.

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