C-45 charges against Ontario crane company dropped

No definite evidence that condition of crane directly contributed to fatal accident

Criminal charges against an Ontario crane rental company, the company’s owner and a crane operator stemming from the death of a city public works employee have been dropped.

Millenium Crane Rentals, owner David Brian Selvers and operator Anthony Vanderloo were charged with criminal negligence causing death after Sault Ste. Marie worker James Vecchio was killed by a mobile crane that fell into a hole where he was working on April 16, 2009. Another employee was also nearby but was unhurt. The charges accused Millennium, Selvers and Vanderloo of failing to take reasonable steps to ensure the crane was properly maintained, inspected, in good, safe operating condition and not having any mechanical difficulties.

The charges were made under Bill C-45, amendments made to the Criminal Code of Canada in 2004. It was the second time criminal charges have been laid in relation to a worker's death under the law and the first time an Ontario company faced charges of criminal negligence causing death.

However, the Crown has now dropped the criminal charges after it decided there was little chance of conviction based on the evidence available.

"To prove the charge of criminal negligence causing death, one of the elements the Crown would have to prove is causation: that the condition of the crane directly contributed in the death of Mr. Vecchio," assistant Crown attorney David Kirk told the Sault Star. “The engineering opinion in this case does not establish with certainty whether or not the braking capacity of the crane was able to stop the crane from entering the excavation.”

As a result, the Crown felt causation between the condition of the crane and Vecchio’s death couldn’t be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Millennium and Vanderloo still face five charges laid by the Ontario Ministry of Labour under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act, including charges for failing to ensure the crane operator was properly licensed, failing to ensure the crane was maintained in a condition that did not endanger a worker, and failing to ensure that the crane was not defective and/or hazardous. The crane operator was also charged for allegedly operating the crane in a manner that endangered himself and other workers.

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