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OPP found 'contradictions' between trucker's two log books

Driver in fatal crash had two log books for the same day, court hears
The Sault Ste. Marie Courthouse is pictured in this file photo.

Police located two log books in the tractor trailer Gary Tyska was driving when he was involved in a fatal collision on the Trans Canada highway, just outside of Blind River, three years ago.

Const. Lorne MacIsaac found one log inside a black binder on the Thunder Bay driver's seat of the transport when he executed a search warrant at a Thessalon towing company on April 10.

He discovered the second log book underneath some clothes in a black bag that was in a drawer in the sleeper berth area of the truck's cab, Superior Court Justice Edward Gareau heard Wednesday.

"When I examined the second log book, it did not match the first log book," said the Ontario Provincial Police officer, who is in the highway safety division of the Sudbury detachment.

"There were contradictions," he told assistant Crown attorney Karen Pritchard.

Tyska's commercial vehicle collided with a Jeep, driven by off-duty OPP Const. David Dennie, on Highway 17, just before 7 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2014.

Dennie, 36, was pronounced dead at the accident scene at 7:07 a.m. 

Tyska was behind the wheel of a tractor trailor, owned by ABI Trucking Inc. of Thunder Bay, that was making a return trip for a Purolator run between the Lakehead and the Toronto area. 

He began the trip south on Feb. 11, leaving Thunder Bay at 9 p.m.

Tyska has pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death, but the Crown indicated Tuesday it will be seeking a guilty verdict to the lesser, included offence of dangerous driving.

MacIsaac testified Tyska's daily inspection report in the second log indicated the inspection took place Feb. 12 at 10:30 p.m. in Etobicoke.

This "directly contradicted" the first log book on the same date that indicated it took place in Sudbury, he said, adding the licence plate number on the trailer was different from the day before.

The 15-year officer said he also noted a discrepancy of 788 kms from the previous day starting odometer reading.

During his search of the transport, MacIsaac also seized ownership and insurance documents and fuel receipts from Sault Ste. Marie and Mississauga.

As well, he later obtained logs and a lading bill from Purolator, and executed a search warrant at ABI Trucking in Thunder Bay on May 2, where he seized pay stubs, driving records, log books and truck logs.

During cross-examination, MacIsaac indicated that he had copies of information in the first log book prior to the search warrant. 

He told defence lawyer Kate Brindley that he "didn't know specifically" where the photocopies came from, but agreed "It's possible" they had been previously seized from the tractor and returned there.

MacIsaac said he could only assume that it was taken and photocopied, but be doesn't know which officer did that.

The court also heard from Alf Brown, the director of vehicle safety for the Alberta government.

Prior to taking this position, he worked with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for 27 years, as an enforcement officer, as well as in senior and administrative posts.

He told assistant Crown attorney Marie-Eve Talbot that he was contacted by the OPP because it was aware of his knowledge of hours of service regulations in Ontario.

He said he had been responsible for training enforcement and police officers, and the OPP asked him to analyze Tyska's daily logs.

Brown explained that the law requires drivers of commercial vehicles to complete daily logs when they are driving on the highway.

Hours of service regulations, under the Highway Traffic Act, describe what information has to be in the log and how it must be maintained.

The log must must cover a 24-hour period each day, as designated by the company, and typically most go from midnight to midnight, Brown said.

It "basically is a story of what the driver does . . . in 15-minute increments."

Brown said there are four duty statuses for drivers.

They are:

  • Off-duty — time other than that spent in the sleeper berth, such as stopping to eat or coffee;
  • Off-duty time spent in the berth. The driver has to be physically in it;
  • Driving time — any time he is in the driver's seat, with his foot on the gas and steering; 
  • On duty time other than driving — such as loading or inspecting the vehicle, putting in fuel and signing paperwork.

At the end of the day, the driver is responsible for totaling up the hours he was involved in each duty.

"It has to total 24 hours and then he signs it, indicating it is true," Brown said.

Another regulation requires the driver to complete daily inspection reports, which he has to carry a copy of and produce on demand to an officer.

The Crown witness said drivers are only allowed to have one log book for each day and Tyska had two.

The second book indicated he was off-duty for 24 hours on Feb.11, which was different from the first which showed he was off-duty for 20.5 hours.

Tyska's daily inspection report, indicated he was off-duty until 8:30 p.m. in Thunder Bay, took half an hour to inspect the vehicle, started his trip at 9 p.m. and drove until midnight.

The second log book for Feb. 12, was "substantially different" from the first one for that date, Brown said.

It indicated he did an inspection at 10:30 p.m. in Sudbury, but "lots of information required by regulation are missing."

A second log for Feb.13, also was substantially different from the first, with lots of information — odometer reading, distance driven, status changes and driver's signature — missing.

It is blank and indicates a daily inspection was done 10:30 p.m. in Etobicoke, he said.

On Wednesday Gareau also heard testimony from a paramedic who was at the collision scene.

Derrick Bates said he was able to open the tailgate of the jeep, which was overturned in a ditch on the south side of the highway.

There was a lot of debris, glass shards and "a high volume of snow" inside.

He said he started to dig out Dennie, found his right arm and assessed him for signs of life.

Bates told Talbot that he cleared enough snow that he could see a large amount of blood pooling in the head area and noted no evidence of any breath coming from the patient.

He and his partner determined Dennie had expired and "there was nothing we could do for the patient."

Bates also spoke to the transport driver, who wanted to go to hospital.

Tyska was alert, orientated and walked over to the ambulance, the witness said.

"He didn't appear injured in any way or form. He was distraught and upset."

During cross-examination by the defence, Bates said Tyska repeatedly asked about the condition of the other driver, but he didn't tell him that the man had died.

He agreed with Brindley that Tyska had complained of knee pain, but didn't recall him saying anything about chest pains.

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About the Author: Linda Richardson

Linda Richardson is a freelance journalist who has been covering Sault Ste. Marie's courts and other local news for more than 35 years.
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