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Sask. man pleads guilty in deadly crash involving 2 sons

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A Saskatchewan man who successfully appealed his conviction is now pleading guilty to charges involving a crash that killed his two sons and girlfriend.

On Friday at Saskatoon Court of King’s Bench, Robert Major pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and three counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Major was the driver of a Dodge Ram pickup that T-boned a semi-truck at the intersection of Highway 16 and Range Road 3083 on Feb. 22, 2016.

Major's 26-year-old girlfriend, four-year-old and nine-year-old sons died in the crash. Major's other five-year-old son, 11-year-old nephew and employee were injured.

At the time of the collision, Major was driving from his acreage to Langham to drop off his kids at his ex-wife’s home.

According to evidence in Major’s trial, the stop sign at the intersection had been knocked down and was not standing on the day of the crash.

The defence argued the downed stop sign was the reason for the fatal collision, while the Crown pointed to Major’s reckless driving.

The jury heard Major was driving 137 kilometres an hour, based on data police retrieved from the vehicle’s airbag control module. The speed limit on Range Road 3083 was 80 kilometres an hour.

None of the passengers were wearing seatbelts, and the youngest boy was sitting on Major’s girlfriend’s lap.

On Jan. 24, 2019, a jury found Major guilty of a total of 12 charges: three counts of dangerous driving causing death, three counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm, three counts of criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing death and three counts of criminal negligence in the operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm.

Weeks later, Major appealed the convictions.

On July 20, 2022, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal awarded Major a new trial because the airbag control data used to estimate the speed Major was driving was “admitted into evidence without a proper foundation.”

The Crown’s case had figured heavily on the speed of Major’s vehicle at the time of collision, but there was no expert witness involved who could attest to the accuracy or reliability of the data produced by the vehicle’s internal sensors, Major argued.

“In this case, there was no evidence as to how the data was actually gathered, what margin of error might exist and what circumstances could influence its accuracy,” the appeal judge wrote.

Major was originally sentenced to seven years in prison, but has been out on bail since he filed his appeal.

The Crown and defence are set to bring forward a joint sentencing submission in October. 

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