An Uber driver who stopped on the side of a highway after his phone fell from it’s holder, causing a fatal collision, has pleaded guilty to a reduced Highway Traffic Act charge of careless driving. The tragic incident, which happened during a journey to Pearson International Airport, Toronto, saw Uber driver Abdihared Bihar Mussa, 23, facing four Criminal Code charges, including dangerous driving causing death. The decision to plead guilty to the lesser charge of careless driving has left the victim’s family disappointed. On March 21, 2018, Nicholas Cameron, 28, and his girlfriend, Monika Traikov, ordered an Uber to take them to the airport. Mussa, who had only been working for the ride-hailing app for two days and clearly was not familiar with his way around, inadvertently entered the highway in the opposite direction of the airport. Crown attorney Michael Coristine said reading an agreed statement of facts that once they managed to head in the correct direction of the airport (westbound on the Gardiner Expressway) Mussa’s phone fell from its mount onto the floor. Mussa then pulled onto the shoulder of the highway to retrieve his phone. The statement said that the vehicle was not completely in the hard shoulder lane and was in fact still “at least partially” in the live right lane. As reported in The Star, after placing his phone back into its mount, Mussa very slowly attempted to pull back onto the highway. During this manoeuvre a black BMW sedan which was travelling at a “high rate of speed” struck the back corner of Mussa’s 2012 Hyundai.
Mr. Cameron, who was sitting behind the driver’s seat took the blunt of the impact, suffering a catastrophic neck injury. He died the following day in hospital. His girlfriend was treated for minor injuries and concussion and was released from hospital. The prosecution accepted Mussa’s plea to the lesser charge, stating that while he exercised poor judgement with extremely tragic, unimaginable consequences, his actions were not criminal. Mussa is now likely to receive a fine between $400 - $2,000 along with a 12 month driving probation and mandatory driver training. Cameron’s family and friends shook their heads and sobbed throughout the proceedings and said they were “horrified” by the decision which is barely a slap on the wrist for Mussa. Cameron’s mother, Cheryl Hawkes, has said that the death of her son has ruined her life as she knew it and urged Mussa to take responsibility for his actions. She said “in the end, responsibility for Nick’s death has been left on the side of the road and no one wants to touch it”.
Ontario Court Justice Paul Robertson reserved his sentencing decision to Dec. 4. Toronto’s licensing authority do not go without blame for this tragic incident, a good friend of Cameron has said in a touching essay surrounding the death of a man he says was “putting together an adult life.” Eric Andrew Gee had been best friends with Cameron since they met in third grade and could not fail to point out that rather than enforce rules that would increase the safety of ride-sharing services, Toronto in fact lowered the standards. All cab drivers used to have to undertake road tests and complete a 17 day safety class. This is no longer the requirements since the standards were lowered. Andrew Gee highlighted that even a basic lesson in local geography may have prevented Mussa from first heading in the wrong direction and then becoming completely reliant on his GPS system. Uber urged that its rating system is used to keep poor and unsafe drivers off the roads. That didn’t happen on this occasion and a young innocent man tragically lost his life.