Friday, September 4, 2009

A Cyclist Dead, a political star tarnished


Josh Wingrove, Timothy Appleby and Kate Hammer
Toronto — From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Last updated on Wednesday, Sep. 02, 2009 12:49PM EDT

"A rising political star once touted as a future premier, former Ontario attorney-general Michael Bryant now faces a pair of serious criminal charges after a Monday night collision in which a bike courier was killed.

Cyclist Darcy Allan Sheppard, 33, a father of four and aspiring comedian, died in hospital after what started as a minor run-in between him and a Saab convertible along Bloor Street West in Yorkville.

Mr. Sheppard was fatally injured after he fell from a car allegedly driven by Mr. Bryant, 43.

Mr. Sheppard had grabbed on to the outside of the open-top convertible during an argument.

Now Mr. Sheppard’s family and friends are coping with his death, while Mr. Bryant is charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.

Ontario has called in an out-of-province prosecutor in an effort to prevent any perception of preferential treatment for Mr. Bryant, who left the provincial government three months ago.

Clad in a suit and striped tie picked up by a friend from his home, the Harvard-educated lawyer Tuesday read a brief prepared statement.

“I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Sheppard,” he said.

“May I ask for your understanding in [me] not making a statement today on Monday night’s tragic events.”

As he isn’t considered a flight risk, Mr. Bryant was released with conditions until an October court date.

He has also hired a high-powered communications company in an apparent bid to stem political fallout. There was no word about his future at Invest Toronto, the municipal agency he led after stepping down as a cabinet minister and MPP.

“To all those who have offered support to my family over the past 12 hours, thank you,” Mr. Bryant said. “And I would ask that the media continue to respect my family’s need for distance and privacy for the next few days.”

His lawyer, Andrew Evangelista, said he had nothing to add to Mr. Bryant’s remarks.

Navigator Limited senior partner Robin Sears confirmed Mr. Bryant had retained the top-tier communications firm. He said Mr. Bryant will speak publicly again in the coming days."

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