Highway 417 flying ice victim frustrated by police response

A Peterborough, Ont., man whose windshield was smashed by flying ice in Ottawa is frustrated police didn't charge the other driver despite having their licence plate and a witness.

On Tuesday at about 5 p.m., while heading to Ottawa for a music rehearsal, conductor John Kraus says a sheet of ice flew off a truck in front of him on Highway 417 in Kanata.

It cracked his windshield, dented the roof and left glass fragments on the inside of his car. 

"I swerved a little bit and I'm glad I did because if I wouldn't have done that, the ice would have [hit] full centre," said Kraus.

"It basically turned the windshield in front of the passenger side of the car into a spider's web, with [cracks] coming all the way across into the drivers side."

John Kraus

Kraus said fortunately he was able to keep control of the car and there was no passenger with him because he hadn't picked up his daughter yet.  

He said he tried to get the other driver to pull over to exchange information, but was seemingly ignored. 

No specific law

Kraus said he took down the licence plate of the other driver and contact information of a witness nearby.

When he contacted Ontario Provincial Police, he said they told him there was nothing they could do because it was an act beyond human control and that insurance would cover damages and repairs. "There is no specific charge under the Highway Traffic Act related to 'snow and ice' on vehicles, however we do have other charges we can apply depending on the circumstances," said acting Insp. Marc Hemmerick, manager of traffic and marine programs for the OPP's east region, in an email to CBC when asked why OPP didn't lay charges.

"When an officer sees a vehicle which may cause a hazard to themselves or the rest of the motoring public they have the authority pull that vehicle over and assist the driver in rectifying the situation."

OPP in the region have used having an unsafe vehicle as one example and police in other areas have pointed to other charges available to them, such as driving with an insecure load.

Drivers can also have their licences suspended for unsafe winter driving and if loose debris from a vehicle results in a collision causing injury or death, drivers can also face criminal charges.

Disappointed in response

Kraus said he's frustrated and disappointed the police didn't do more.

"I'm not sure how much more information they require, especially when there is a witness who was literally right beside me and saw the whole activity going on," he said. 

John Kraus

Kraus said he had just read the story CBC reported earlier this week about the same thing happening to a Cobden, Ont., man. 

"Fortunately for me, I didn't have that significant of a situation, but at the same time … it could have been a very different story and a different ending for me," he said. 

Kraus also wants people to clean off their vehicles in the first place before hitting the road.