For accident investigators, the rule is always look for the human element.
OPP accident specialist Steven Anderson told a Hamilton judge Friday that’s where all the signs were pointing as he tried to unravel why a dump truck with its box raised smashed into the superstructure of the Skyway on Civic Holiday weekend in 2014.
Sukhvinder Singh Rai, 25, of Brampton, the driver of that vehicle, is on trial after pleading not guilty to charges of impaired driving, driving with an illegal blood alcohol level, dangerous driving and mischief endangering life.
Anderson testified the opinion of all the more experienced investigators he consulted in his bureau was there had to be a human error at the root of the case.
“Everything was leaning toward the human side for causation. Someone had to have done something that caused this,” he said under cross examination by defence counsel David Locke.
Previous witnesses in the case have testified the box of the truck started to rise as it climbed the Toronto-bound side of the Skyway. By that time, it was past the sensors that would have warned workers at the top of the bridge that an oversized vehicle was approaching.
That fact has focused attention on a control box that raised and lowered the truck’s bin.
Anderson testified that under the power of a search warrant, the box was taken out of the truck two weeks after the accident. In earlier testimony he said two switches had to be activated to raise the box of the truck and both were found to be mechanically sound.
He added Friday that the controls were in a slightly awkward position on the floor of the cab, but could still be operated by the driver “without having to go into contortions.”
Anderson described a chaotic scene at the top of the bridge with fire and police vehicles scattered on the road and emergency workers fearing for their safety after being told the bridge was not structurally sound.
In the midst of it, Rai was standing on the road wearing a safety vest and talking on a cellphone. He had refused to be taken to hospital after the accident but did not appear to be injured.
“I told (another officer) not to let that man out of his sight,” Anderson said. “We didn’t want him walking off, falling over the side of the bridge or keeling over from some injury the fire department didn’t find.”
The collision caused $1.2 million in damage to the bridge and fouled traffic for tens of thousands of long-weekend travellers and commuters. The bridge was under repair for more than seven months.
At the time of the crash, the bridge was undergoing rehabilitation work, with a protective coating being added to its structural steel.
Rai, who is on bail, is listening to proceedings with the aid of a team of Punjabi interpreters.
The hearing adjourned early Friday because a witness was not available. It is to continue Monday.
Source: The Hamilton Spectator