The call for quick access to cell data after fatal crash

06-04-2021    12:22   |    Global News

CANADA, Quebec- A Quebec coroner is recommending the province adopt legislation allowing authorities to quickly obtain cellphone data and other relevant information in missing persons cases.

The recommendation is in a report released Wednesday into the deaths of Quebec businessman Stéphane Roy and his teenage son, Justin Roy Séguin, 14, who died in a July 2019 helicopter crash on their return from a fishing trip.

Roy, 55, was the founder and owner of Les Serres Sagami, which produces greenhouse-grown tomatoes under the Savoura brand. The bodies of Roy and his son were found along with the downed chopper in a wooded area near Lac Valtrie, Que., about 220 kilometres northwest of Montreal, 14 days after they were reported missing.

Authorities had trouble securing cellphone data belonging to Roy and his son, from Telus, which delayed efforts to find the missing Robinson R-44 helicopter, coroner Denyse Langelier said in her report.

Quebec provincial police obtained numbers linked to cellphones of the victims, but on July 17, the provider refused to collaborate further and said it was no longer an urgent matter. The coroner noted that police weren’t able to obtain a judicial authorization because their probe was not criminal.

Telus ultimately agreed to a request from Roy’s wife, on humanitarian grounds, and released more information.

“In the light of these laws, it is clear that there is a legal vacuum as to the powers of the police to compel a private company to provide them with personal information in the event of an investigation aimed at finding a missing person in the absence of criminal elements,” the coroner’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

“If such legislation existed, the police could have obtained from Telus all the information to locate the deceased’s cellphones and thus find the occupants of the helicopter in a shorter time.”

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Photo: Biologico organic tomato greenhouse owner Stephane Roy is seen in Saint-Sophie, Que., on August 16, 2012. Graham Hughes / The Canadian Press



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