Exclusive – Driver Pleads Guilty to Careless Driving Causing Death In the Death of Cormac Kerin

In Editor Choice, Local

(Today’s Northumberlandfile photos showing scene of collision, vigil, funeral, photos of Cormac and family including Shea holding hockey puck, bus convoy showing support for bus driver)

The driver of a vehicle that collided with a 12-year-old boy and his 10-year-old sister pleaded guilty in Provincial Offences Court on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

Cormac Kerin (age 12) and his sister Shea were outside their home when their school bus pulled up to take them to school that morning.

A car driven by a 17-year-old who had only had his G-2 license for four weeks came over a hill on the 7th Line in Port Hope, saw the stopped bus and lost control striking both siblings.

Cormac died at the scene and his sister was airlifted to SickKids where she was listed in critical condition.

The driver of the vehicle was charged with one count of careless driving causing bodily harm and another careless driving causing death under the Highway Traffic Act.

In Provincial Offences Court, the driver who appeared virtually along with his lawyer Alan Richter plead guilty to the one charge of careless driving causing bodily harm against Cormac Kerin. (The other charge was withdrawn).

Cormac and Shea’s parents sat in court with supporters.

Crown prosecutor Julie Ann Barrett said at approximately 8:05 a.m. on December 2, 2020, the driver was heading westbound on the 7th Line in the Municipality of Port Hope driving a 2006 vehicle.

The driver had graduated from a G1 licence to a G2 licence approximately four-weeks prior to the collision.

The 7th Line is asphalt roadway with one lane travelling eastbound and one travelling westbound. There are no painted markings on the roadway.

In the area of the collision, the road is straight and has a downhill grade of approximately four degrees.

At the time of the collision the roadway was snow covered with patches of ice.

The speed limit in the area is 50 kph and is the presumed speed limit in the Municipality of Port Hope.

Barrett said at approximately 8 a.m. Cormac and Shea were crossing the 7th Line from the edge of their driveway to catch the school bus.

All safety equipment on the school bus was activated and lights flashing.

“The children were crossing the road from the north side where their residence is, to the south side of the road where the entry door to the bus was accessible.”

The bus was facing east at the time.

As the children were crossing the road, the vehicle came over the crest of the hill travelling westbound approaching where the bus had stopped to pick up the children.

Barrett said the roads were snow covered, but it appeared sand had recently been applied.

“As the defendant approached the stopped school bus, he lost control of his vehicle and began to skid.”

“He ultimately struck both of the Kerin children as they were crossing in front of the school bus.”

The vehicle rolled and came to a stop in the ditch on the south side of the road.

The bus driver immediately began first aid to both children.

In a statement to police, the bus driver said she believed the vehicle was travelling “quite fast” down the hill estimating the speed at 70 kph.

“In her statement she stated she was watching the kids and they got about halfway across the road when she noticed the car.”

The bus driver started honking the bus horn so the kids would see the car coming.

“She described the car appeared to have slammed on the brakes and lost control.”

“The kids started to run towards the bus to get in it, when the car turned sideways, continued forward, colliding with both Cormac and Shea.”

Cormac had no vital signs and died from the injuries sustained in the collision.

Shea was transported to hospital and transported by air ambulance to SickKids Hospital in Toronto in critical life threatening condition.

Shea suffered numerous injuries including to have a seven-hour surgery to reattach her spine.

Shea was in hospital from December 2, 2020 to July 15, 2021.

Another witness statement said they saw a car similar to the one involved, “speeding down a hill really fast,” at the 7th Line at Woodvale School Road. The witness said there was only one person in the vehicle, “who seemed to be in a rush.”

A neighbour of the Kerin’s also gave a statement saying he saw the school bus arrive, saw children walk towards the bus, and a vehicle travelling westbound “quite fast.”

A Northumberland OPP officer spoke to the driver after the collision. The driver said he was driving at approximately 70 to 80 kph.

“He described coming over the hill and seeing a school bus,” said Barrett.

“He described attempting to brake and then sliding down the hill, turning the vehicle sideways.”

The driver attempted to steer the vehicle toward the ditch, but collided with the two children.

A OPP Technical Collision Reconstruction Investigator said the vehicle was travelling between 61-69 kph.

Barrett said the driver, “was operating his vehicle in a manner that was careless to the public, without due care and attention, without reasonable consideration for persons using the highway causing the death of Cormac Kerin and also causing bodily harm to Shea Kerin.”

Defense counsel Richter said Barrett’s comments provided a fair and accurate summary of the accident report.

Richter said from the outset his client stated the speed he was driving was higher than it should have been.

“It often doesn’t take much to have horrific, life altering, generational type of tragedy.”

“This was a young person, going to pick up his friends to (go to) high school. His intention was to pick up friends to go to school. Nothing sinister, nothing malicious, nothing negligent, simply careless on his part – with the most tragic of consequences.”

In a joint submission by Barrett and Richter that was also accepted by Justice of the Peace Joni Glover the driver was given a fine of $2,000, probation for two-years, with conditions that he report to a probation officer as required, attend for counselling, no contact with the Kerins, not operate a motor vehicle for 18-months except to travel and from and while at his place of employment. Or expressed written permission from probation officer to attend his place of education. To perform 100 hours of community service with some of those hours involving presentations or educational undertaking to other young people about the responsibility of driving a motor vehicle and the consequences of careless driving.

 

Kerin Family Impact Statement
From: Brendan and Jennifer Kerin, on behalf of Aishling, Cormac and Shea Kerin

Introduction:
Dear Justice Glover,

We are Brendan and Jennifer Kerin, the parents of Aishling, Cormac, and Shea Kerin.

We are submitting this “Family Impact Statement” to Justice Glover and the crown prosecutor, Julie-Anne Barrett, to outline the essential facts about December 2, 2020, ‘s tragedy and the many impacts on our family and community.

On December 2, 2020, our family and community experienced a tragic generational event in the municipality of Port Hope, Ontario.

(Driver’s name withheld) The driver was travelling westbound on the 7th Line, suddenly and without warning, lost control of his car—striking Cormac and Shea as they crossed the road to board their school bus.

Cormac, 12, was killed. Shea, 10, sustained traumatic and catastrophic personal injuries that are life-altering.

In truth, this impact statement should be about how Cormac and Shea did not survive. Through the grace of God, this near-truth was interrupted and ultimately extinguished by an extraordinary group of professionals—who used every ounce of their training and talent to save a young girl’s life.

It is impossible to accurately and effectively summarize the “impact” and the consequences of the driver’s actions and choices from that day.

The sheer terror Cormac and Shea felt in the last seconds before they were hit by the driver’s car.

To be a father, to kiss your kids goodbye, and minutes later to see them wasted in a ditch, and being forced to choose—which child to help first?

What it is like to kneel helplessly beside one child who is dead while the other is taking the last gasps of her life.

To be a mother caring for other people’s children only to be whisked to a police cruiser and told by a police officer that her son Cormac had died, and she had only minutes to get to the hospital to say goodbye to her daughter Shea.

To be Cormac and Shea’s eldest sibling, Aishling, swarmed with students, strangers and social media with unGodly news that your brother and sister are dead, with dozens of people staring at you—and nowhere to turn.

What it is like to hear doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children explain how perilous a situation Shea was facing—the odds of her coming out of this in any positive light were slim.

What it’s like to be in a conference room with some of the world’s leading pediatric doctors explaining the litany of injuries our daughter has received and the brutal new realities they bring.

To be in that same room, with our son’s hockey coach plastered on the national news, bravely speaking for Cormac, our family and our community.

We cannot explain the unimaginable torture of planning a funeral for one child and being bedside with another child—fighting for her life.

You cannot explain the feeling of a mother unable to see her deceased son for over a week because he is being subjected to an autopsy.

What it’s like, to bury your only son while your eldest daughter watches over, and your youngest daughter—on her own, in another city.

This has been an unrelenting and brutal journey for us.

 

The impact on Shea:
To say that Shea Kerin is alive and has overcome infinite odds so violently thrust upon her is a bone-chilling story of a modern-day miracle.

Shea should not be alive.

Shea’s story, her will to survive, recover and rehabilitate, to regain a life rightfully hers—is legendary.

The first responders (Port Hope Fire, Northumberland EMS, Northumberland OPP) and the Trauma Team at Northumberland Hills Hospital stabilized Shea’s perilous state, just enough to be airlifted by Ornge Air Ambulance and transferred to The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Shea survived a rare and typically fatal injury called an “Atlanto-occiptal dislocation,” otherwise known as “internal decapitation.”

At SickKids, Shea underwent multiple surgeries and procedures, including a highly complex surgery to “ fuse her spine and skull” back together.

Shea suffered severe injuries to different body parts, including her head, brain, neck, spine, and extremities.

●Left occipital condyle fracture,

●Subarachnoid hematoma and SDH with scattered areas of contusion,

●Atlanto-occiptal dislocation,

●T4-8 vertebral body contusions,

●Traumatic L5-S1 disc herniation,

●SDH within the thecal sac involving the thoracolumbar spine,

●Bilateral hemothorax and left tension pneumothorax with lung parenchymal contusions,

●Open left mid-shaft forearm fracture,

●Right nondisplaced ulna fracture,

●Left distal tibia and fibula fracture,

●Left clavicle fracture and left sacra ala fracture.

●Various lacerations, abrasions and contusions, including spraining, straining and tearing of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, nerves and vessels throughout her body.

●A ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt was surgically installed several months later due to complications from her injuries.

Shea spent the months from December 2, 2020, to July 15, 2021, in the hospital, split between SickKids and Holland Bloorview Rehabilitation in Toronto.

Shea’s rehabilitation has been an extended, painful, and brutal journey, and she will require many more years of therapy to recover. Her injuries will stay with her for the rest of her life.

Shea’s determination to overcome her injuries and regain her abilities is inspiring and admirable, and her strength and perseverance serve as an
example for others to learn from.

Early in her rehabilitation, Shea bravely made it her goal to be at school for the first day of the 2021-2022 school year—and she did it.

Shea’s resilience and positive attitude have profoundly impacted those around her. Her determination to recover and her ability to inspire others,
even in the face of such a tragic event, is truly remarkable.

She has become an ambassador for SickKids Hospital, and her story inspires other children going through similar struggles, using the mantra, “If Shea can do it, I can too.”

 

The loss of Cormac:
The loss of Cormac has profoundly impacted our family and community.

There is a great indignity about Cormac’s violent death. Cormac (12), was a handsome young man who had within him a unique kindness and intelligence—that proclaimed he had an exceptional future ahead of him.

Cormac’s character and legacy will outshine anything that took his life away.

Cormac had many loves. He adored and valued nature and was fascinated with the world around him, how it worked and the threats our world faced.

Cormac was a competitive athlete and a beloved teammate. He was the kid who took gym class too seriously. Cormac was an avid hockey player and a proud member of the Northumberland Night Hawks. His teammates and the hockey community have been devastated by his loss.

Cormac was respected by many, including his dear friends, classmates, teachers and coaches. As his hockey coach Mark McDermott, an OPP officer, said, “Cormac was the kid who looked you in the eye.”

Cormac was an irreplaceable brother to Aishling and Shea; his absence is deeply felt by all who knew him, including his family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents.

It is impossible to convey that the loss of Cormac has left a void in our lives that will never be filled. We will always cherish his memory, and he will always be missed.

As parents, we grieve Cormac’s loss every day. We loved him dearly because he was our son, our pride and joy. We miss his laughter, smile, and presence in our home. The thought of living a life without him is unbearable.

The pain of losing Cormac will never disappear, and we will always carry him in our hearts.

 

The impact on Aishling:
Our eldest daughter, Aishling, has been through a tremendous and brutal ordeal.

Aishling received the news of her brother Cormac’s death and her sister’s severe injuries; the way most teenagers learn news in this day and age is through social media. It was instantaneous, brutal and unfair.

The Covid-19 pandemic has added a layer of complexity to Aishling’s grief, as she could not visit her gravely injured sister Shea for three months due to the strict provincial COVID-19 public health protocols.

Thankfully, SickKids finally blew the whistle and “found a way” to get these sisters back together.

Shea would not be as far without Aishling. She was instrumental in getting Shea to make the hardest and most painful steps, the first ones.

We are in awe of her strength and leadership. Her example in supporting us through our darkest days has been beyond inspirational.

 

The impact on the First Responders:
Shea’s survival is nothing short of a miracle. It is a testament to the skill, training, and dedication of the first responders and healthcare professionals involved in her resuscitation.

The trauma of that day has been somewhat mitigated by the fact that Shea’s life was saved thanks to their quick thinking and smart actions.

Against all odds, the first responders and NHH trauma team stabilized Shea’s condition just enough for her to be airlifted by Ornge Air Ambulance to SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.

This was an extremely difficult scene for the first responders who attended. They were tasked with providing emergency medical care and transport for two children, one of whom had been killed and another with catastrophic injuries.

Our family wishes to recognize the impact on their mental health that December 2, 2020, brought them.

The first responders, who were instrumental in Shea’s survival, share a special bond with Shea and our family and will always be remembered for their role in the miraculous rescue.

 

The impact on our Family:
To say our family (immediate and extended) has been devastated is an immense understatement. Our family will never be the same without Cormac, and Shea’s recovery will be a lifelong journey.

We lost a beloved son and brother in Cormac and have seen Shea suffer unimaginable pain and hardship.

We realize that for many, the grief is subsiding; as parents, our suffering is sustained. It occupies us and impacts us physically, emotionally and mentally, spiritually, socially, and professionally.

Our daily lives and routines have been irrevocably changed, and our relationships with friends, family, and community members have been
altered.

We persevered through the minutes, days, and months of subsequent distressing events following the accident. The trauma impact lingers. With the support of loved ones and strangers, we carry on.

We admire the resilience of our daughters, Aishling and Shea, and are encouraged to move on each day by the blessing of parenting them. We have had many challenges, and the impacts of this accident are lifelong for us parents, Shea and Aishling. For Cormac, the impact is final.

Today with acknowledgement of guilt and acceptance of responsibility for this unnecessary tragedy, we mark another milestone in our path forward.
Thank you.

 

Appendix A – Shea’ Injuries Explained
A diffuse axonal injury: is a brain injury that occurs when the brain is damaged or shaken violently. It is often the result of a car accident or a fall from a significant height.

Left occipital condyle fracture: This is a fracture in the back of the head on the left side, near the base of the skull.

Subarachnoid hematoma and SDH with scattered areas of contusion: A subarachnoid hematoma is a type of brain injury in which there is bleeding in the space between the brain and the membranes surrounding it.

Atlanto-occiptal dislocation: is a type of injury in which the joint between the base of the skull and the top bone of the spine becomes dislocated.

T4-8 vertebral body contusions are bruises or areas of damaged tissue, often caused by a blow or impact. Vertebral body contusions are bruises to the bones of the spine.

Traumatic L5-S1 disc herniation: A traumatic L5-S1 disc herniation is a type of injury in which the gel-like substance (the disc) between two vertebrae in the lower back is damaged and pushes out of place.

SDH within the thecal sac involving the thoracolumbar spine: SDH stands for subdural hematoma, a brain injury involving bleeding between the brain and the membranes surrounding it.

SDH within the thecal sac involving the thoracolumbar spine: Thecal sac refers to the membranes surrounding the spinal cord. If there is bleeding within these membranes, it is called a subdural hematoma within the thecal sac.

Bilateral hemothorax and left tension pneumothorax with lung parenchymal contusions: Hemothorax refers to the presence of blood in the chest cavity. A tension pneumothorax is an injury in which a lung hole allows air to build up in the chest cavity. This can cause the lung to collapse and can be life-threatening. Lung parenchymal contusions are bruises to the lung tissue.

Open left mid-shaft forearm fracture: An open left mid-shaft forearm fracture is a break in the bone of the left forearm near the middle.

Right nondisplaced ulna fracture: A right nondisplaced ulna fracture is a break in the bone in the elbow on the right side, but the bone has not moved out of place.

Left distal tibia and fibula fracture: A left distal tibia and fibula fracture is a break in the bones of the lower leg on the left side, near the ankle.

Left clavicle fracture and left sacra ala fracture: A left clavicle fracture is a break in the collarbone on the left side.

Other: Various lacerations, abrasions and contusions, including spraining, straining and tearing of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, nerves and vessels throughout her body.

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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