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Burlington Skyway crash: Driver to face additional charges

10/03/2014 11:28 EDT | Updated 12/03/2014 05:59 EST
The driver of a dump truck that smashed into the iron superstructure of the Burlington Skyway this past summer will be in court with a Punjabi translator Wednesday, with his lawyers expecting new charges to be laid.

Sukhvinder Singh Rai, 34, appeared in a Hamilton court Friday morning to face impaired driving charges laid shortly after the incident

Lawyers on behalf of the Brampton truck driver deferred the hearing to next week in light of the possible new charges against him. 

Lawyer Glen Henderson represented him Friday, requesting the court have a Punjabi translator in place for Rai, who is expected to make his first court appearance since the July 31 crash into the Skyway caused traffic mayhem. 

The collision was caused by the truck driving with the bed of the dump truck raised, striking the iron superstructure above the Toronto-bound lanes. It took four days for a temporary beam to be installed, forcing the average 70,000 daily commuters to reroute around or through Hamilton's core during the busy August long weekend. 

Henderson said Friday's appearance was another administrative appearance, adding he hasn't formally received charges from the Crown. 

While Henderson didn't have much to disclose outside the John Sopinka Couthouse, he did offer one quick comment on his client's status.

"He's appropriately concerned about these outstanding charges, beyond that, my interests are to respect his privacy and I can't comment further," Henderson said. 

Steve Panchuk, a 15-year veteran of the trucking industry from Brampton, was on hand for the second court date, defending other drivers hoping the public doesn't paint the industry with a "broad brush" considering the impaired driving charges facing Rai. 

"I'm a professional driver and I care about what I do," Panchuk said. "I think it gives the industry a bad name. The good far outweighs the bad."

As for what he hopes in the case, he said he's not a lawyer or a judge, but that someone needs to be held accountable. 

"The punishment should probably fit the crime," said Panchuk. "And I look back and think about the hundreds of thousands of people that were inconvenienced, and the amount of damage that was probably caused. Somebody has to be held accountable and responsible for." 

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Transportation responded to a freedom of information request from the CBC, which asked for video footage of the crash caught on any of the some 300 CCTV cameras that monitor Ontario's highways. 

The request was denied because the ministry says the video doesn't exist, citing the COMPASS system as a monitoring program, and not a video replay tool for accidents. 

In mid-August the ministry said a new beam could be installed as early as two months. 

The Crown's office did not immediately return emails asking for details on the additional charges. 

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