Plea deal expected in 2018 Prescott tour bus crash

(Newswatch Group/File)

BROCKVILLE/PRESCOTT – A plea deal is in the works for the driver charged in a 2018 tour bus crash on Highway 401 near Prescott that killed three tourists from China.

Jia Qi of Flushing, N.Y. was charged Feb. 1, 2019 with careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act. He was 31 years old at the time.

A Union Tour Express bus carrying tourists from China hit a rock cut, killing three passengers and injuring 34 others.

During a Provincial Offences Act court appearance Wednesday (June 9), Qi’s lawyer, Mark Cardy, says the case could benefit from a judicial pretrial where both sides could come to an agreement. The problem is with respect to a sentence.

“Given the gravity of the situation, he (prosecutor John O’Halloran) hasn’t articulated an exact position that the Crown has taken with respect to penalty,” Cardy told Justice of the Peace Susan Doyle.

The Crown agreed with meeting but wants to resolve the matter.

“I’d like to move these along. There were numerous fatalities in this particular accident. They were foreign nationals involved, so again, I do want to move this along,” Crown Gerry McDougall said.

Cardy agreed that the matter is “growing long in the tooth” but would still benefit from a pretrial to suss out the “Crown position on sentence.”

“I do note three fatalities. We are trying to avoid a trial if we can,” Cardy noted.

The court will hold a counsel pretrial (CPT) the middle of next month where both sides will try to work out their differences outside of the courtroom before the next court appearance, also expected on the same day.