Toronto hit-and-run driver fails to dodge trial

The chalkline of the victim of a car accident.
The chalkline of the victim of a car accident. Stock photo by Getty Images

An Ontario driver, who fled the scene after hitting a co-worker who later died, has failed in his attempt to quash the slew of criminal charges against him.

On December 11, 2011, Marlon Layugan was driving home late at night after his shift ended at Fiera Foods — a Toronto-based frozen foods company — when he struck a fellow employee. The court pointed out that the accident itself was not his fault, but the events that occurred subsequently were.

Instead of getting out of the car and calling an ambulance, he stopped the car to look and then drove away. Unfortunately, a tractor trailer came along and hit the victim a second time, dragging him for nearly 100 metres. The second driver stopped and got out of the car, but found the victim lifeless.

Layugan then came back and accused the other driver of having killed the victim. Despite attempts to revive the victim, he died on the scene.

Layugan, once again, left before the police arrived. He also failed to disclose that he was the one who initially struck the victim — leaving the impression that the truck driver was at fault for the victim’s death.

A preliminary inquiry found Layugan liable for the events, and ordered him to stand trial for the criminal charges. He was charged with failing to stop at the scene of the accident knowing that bodily harm had been caused to the person, committing an unlawful act, manslaughter, and criminal negligence causing death.

Layugan responded by filing a certiorari to quash the order to stand trial for the charges. A certiorari, often referred to as a cert., is a formal request to a court to challenge a decision of a previous court or tribunal, and if successful void that decision. This request was denied by Ontario Superior Court Justice Brian O’Marra.

Layugan then tried to overturn O’Marra’s decision, citing errors in the judgment, which was rejected last week by the Ontario Court of Appeal, which ordered the trial to proceed.

Layugan claims he couldn’t reasonably forsee that a truck would hit the victim and he would die. However, the appeal court rejected this theory by stating that by leaving the scene of the accident the first time Layugan created inherently dangerous conditions for the victim to be hurt further. In fact, it was through the risk created by Layugan that the victim’s death likely occurred.

This case raises several issues. If employees were working midnight shifts, wouldn’t the employer have required they wear reflective, or at least, noticeable clothing?

In terms of civil liability, by failing to disclose he hit the victim first, Layugan leaves himself open to a civil lawsuit by the truck driver. This also left police to initially conclude the truck driver caused the death.

The sad thing about this story is that if he had only stayed at the scene of the accident and called for help, the victim would probably be alive today. Layugan would also have avoided criminal, and possibly other, charges.

Layugan’s criminal trial was set to begin this week.

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