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Company allegedly didn't have proper safety measures at Barrie, Ont. site where 6 young adults died

Police allege a construction company failed to secure a site in Barrie, Ont., where six young adults were killed in a crash in August.

"This has been a very large, very complex investigation," Barrie Police Services communications coordinator Peter Leon said Friday. "It's probably one of the largest investigations we've been involved with in recent times."

Barrie police charged Con-Drain Group with six counts of criminal negligence causing death after the victims' car plunged into a deep hole in a municipal construction site on a rural road.

Court documents obtained by CTV News state Con-Drain failed to properly sign and barricade the temporary road closure of McKay Road between County Road 27 and Veterans Drive as per the Traffic Management Plan.

The document states the lack of safety measures caused the deaths of Curtis King, 22, River Wells, 21, Jason Ono-O'Connor, 23, Luke West, 22, Jersey Mitchell, 20, and Haley Marin, 21.

CTV News Barrie reached out to the company Friday and received a statement simply noting that it cannot comment "as the matter will now be before the courts."

In an interview with CTV News Barrie, CTV's public safety analyst and former OPP commissioner, Chris Lewis, said the severity of the charges is significant.

"Generally speaking, it's one of the more serious offences in the Criminal Code of Canada. For an individual, it could mean life imprisonment as a maximum penalty, so it shows the seriousness of it."

Leon noted that while an official with Con-Drain Group was served Thursday, the company is charged, not one person.

"This is a unique set of circumstances where a company is being held responsible for the work that was being done.

It's not uncommon, but it's unique. In fact, it's probably one of the first times in recent years that I can remember a company is being held responsible other than an individual," he said.

Lewis said if the construction zone wasn't properly posted or barricaded, that is evidence that would be used in the case.

"Let's be honest, six young people lost their lives in this case, and the allegation is that the company should have done more to protect them," he added.

Investigators at the site of a deadly crash in a construction site along McKay Road in Barrie, Ont. on Wed., Aug. 31, 2022. (CTV News)

The safety analyst highlighted the potential for legislative changes surrounding securing the dangers posed at construction sites.

"Particularly on roads where people, driving by at county road speeds, [it's] potentially very, very dangerous," he said.

The former OPP commissioner also noted the likelihood of civil litigation.

"I'd be shocked if it didn't occur here," he said. "If there is a criminal conviction, that will certainly lead to very strong evidence in favour of those potentially suing the company that is allegedly responsible in this case."

Still, the Crown will have to prove that the company was reckless in its actions or lack thereof and disprove any other potential cause for the incident on behalf of the driver and those in the vehicle.

Con-Drain is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 13.

The allegations against Con-Drain Group have not been tested in court. Top Stories

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