No criminal charges will be laid in October death of cyclist on Mount Royal, says Crown

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No criminal charges will be laid in October death of cyclist on Mount Royal, says Crown

Quebec's director of criminal and penal prosecutions will not pursue criminal charges against the driver of an SUV who struck and killed a cyclist on Mount Royal last fall.

The provincial Crown's office issued a statement Wednesday saying that it had reviewed the results of the Montreal police investigation and determined the driver's actions did not constitute dangerous driving under the Criminal Code.

"Recklessness, simple negligence, or an error of judgment are insufficient for an individual to [be held] criminally responsible," the statement reads. 

Clément Ouimet, 18, a promising road cyclist, was training on the mountain on Oct. 4, 2017, descending just south of the lookout on Camillien-Houde Way when an SUV travelling ahead of him suddenly made an illegal U-turn.

Ouimet suffered a fatal head injury in the ensuing crash.

The 59-year-old driver of the SUV was not injured. 

Jean-Pascal Boucher of the Quebec prosecutor's office said ​the Crown "decided not to press charges because we are not [convinced] that there are reasonable grounds to lay charges in this file."

Boucher said prosecutors met with Ouimet's family before making the decision public.

Magali Bebronne, a spokesperson for Vélo Québec, said while the Crown's decision not to press charges against the motorist wasn't entirely surprising, it was a disappointment.

"The U-turn was illegal. There's a reason it was illegal: it's because it's dangerous, and it proved very dangerous and fatal in this case," Bebronne told CBC.

"As a society, we really have to remind ourselves that driving is a privilege, and it comes with responsibility, and one of those responsibilities is not breaking the law."

Driver reported checking his mirrors, Crown says

The Crown said the driver reported checking his mirrors before making the U-turn and did not see the cyclist. A Montreal police collision investigator said that scenario seems plausible.

The same expert also confirmed the cyclist did not have enough time to avoid the SUV, based on the evidence at the scene. 

To lay a charge under the Criminal Code, the Crown must be able to show that the driver's action was objectively dangerous to public safety and a departure from what a reasonable person would do in the same circumstances.

Eric Sutton, a criminal lawyer, said he was not surprised the driver won't be charged.

Proving the driver was driving dangerously would have been difficult, he said, and the consequences of an act cannot justify a criminal prosecution.

"You have to look at the act itself, which boiled down to a U-turn at the wrong place at the wrong time," Sutton said. 

It's not clear whether the driver will have to pay a fine for his traffic violation.

Mount Royal traffic restrictions

In the wake of Ouimet's death, Montreal decided to close a portion of Mount Royal to vehicular traffic in an effort to force drivers cutting across the mountain to use another route.

The plan proved divisive among Montrealers, but a four-month pilot project blocking an 800-metre stretch of the road will go ahead starting June 1.

-  Mount Royal traffic plan will go to public consultation after all