A Yukon RCMP officer has been stripped of his civilian wings for two years and ordered to pay a $2,000 fine for dangerous flying.
Jean-Michel Sauve was convicted on Friday of dangerous operation of an aircraft.
In early January, Sauve and an unnamed co-pilot had been flying his private Tundra over Fish Lake, where a Fulda Challenge ice race was underway.
He flew his plane at a high rate of speed about seven metres above the frozen lake, buzzing the crowd three times. On the final pass up the lake, Sauve’s wing clipped the roof an empty Chevrolet Equinox parked on the shore.
Miraculously, his plane remained intact and Sauve was able to fly back to Whitehorse and land.
The near-miss was caught on camera by a Fulda videographer on the ground.
Sauve holds a private pilot licence and was off-duty on the day of the crash. He doesn’t fly for the RCMP.
Sauve was charged with four counts of dangerous flying. His defence lawyer sought a conditional discharge because a criminal conviction would likely end his policing career.
Judge Karen Rudy weighed her decision carefully, citing numerous other cases where a conditional discharge had been an option, but she ultimately decided that Sauve’s actions were too serious to ignore.
After the accident, Sauve didn’t report the crash to Whitehorse’s air traffic control tower, to Transport Canada or to the Transportation Safety Board. He did, however, record the crash in the aircraft logbook.
Along with the $2,000 fine, Sauve was also ordered to pay a $300 victim surcharge and $8,039 to Driving Force, the rental company that owns the damaged Equinox.
He has been banned from flying for two years and has one year to pay the fine.
There is no word on how the conviction will affect Sauve’s career, said RCMP spokeswoman Christine Grant. After he was charged, Sauve was placed on administration duty and is still there, pending the results of an internal investigation by the force.
Grant couldn’t say when that investigation is likely to be finished.
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