By Molly Hayes, Hamilton Spectator
A celebratory night out turned tragic for a local softball team, with one teammate facing impaired driving charges and another clinging to life in hospital.
Brantford police officer and Dundas resident Ryan Grant, 33, sat with his head in his hands in court Monday, shaking with tears as details of the allegations against him and the life-threatening injuries faced by his friend were read out at his bail hearing.
Grant is charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm and impaired driving after a friend fell out of his moving car around 1:30 a.m. Monday.
Joey Flaherty, 27, also from Dundas, remains in hospital in critical condition.
Flaherty was a passenger in Grant’s white 1 997 Jeep — whose door and roof had been removed — when he is believed to have lost his grip and fell out around 1:30 a.m., Crown attorney Tim Power said in court Monday. He was not wearing a seatbelt.
The friends had been out celebrating a win with their baseball team. The two men, friends through Flaherty’s older brother, were drinking along with their team at the game and then afterwards at a “couple of bars,” Power said.
At the end of the night, the two men got into the vehicle and drove southbound on Emerson Street. It was as Grant made the turn onto Mapes Avenue that Flaherty fell out and hit the pavement, court heard.
Emergency crews were called and a bystander performed CPR, but Flaherty remained unconscious and was without vital signs as they rushed him to hospital where he was revived.
Police interviewed Grant at the scene and he allegedly “showed signs of alcohol consumption,” court heard.
Grant jumped out of his car as soon as Flaherty fell, according to the synopsis read out in court, and was co-operative with investigators when they arrived, constantly asking about his friend.
The collision reconstruction unit — called in for serious or fatal crashes — is now in charge of the investigation. The vehicle was seized at the scene and is being examined by police experts, an action termed “routine” by Hamilton police spokesperson Sergeant Claus Wagner.
At his bail hearing Monday afternoon, Grant wept as the synopsis was read out. A publication ban on the hearing was not requested.
He wore his neon yellow softball shirt, flipped inside out, in the prisoner’s box. A special constable handed him a tissue at one point as he sat visibly upset.
The police officer, who was off-duty during the incident, was released on a $25,000 surety, under the conditions that he continue to live at his Dundas home, that he abstain completely from alcohol and that he abstain from operating a motor vehicle.
Grant’s licence is suspended for 90 days, but once that suspension is up the judge ruled he will be allowed to drive for work purposes as a police officer. However, it’s unclear if he’ll have that opportunity any time soon. Brantford Police Acting Chief Dave Wiedrick has suspended Grant with pay pending his criminal trial and an internal Police Services Act investigation, which will be run separately and follow the criminal probe. The Hamilton man had been with the Brantford service less than two years.
Also Monday afternoon, friends and family of Flaherty gathered at Hamilton General Hospital — so many that they had to clear the room and congregate on the lawn outside, said lifelong friend Victor Ljuljdjuraj.
“That’s just a reflection of who he (Joey) was,” he said — adding that it is impossible to go anywhere without running into a buddy of Flaherty’s. “Anywhere we went, he knew somebody,. Whether it was out at a bar or out to eat or even away on a fishing trip … he was very charismatic, very popular.”
He described his friend as a “hard-working, hands-on guy,” working for the City of Oakville after years with the City of Hamilton. He also loves sports — fishing and softball especially, his friends said.
— With files from Bill Dunphy