A Red Deer courtroom was packed as the sentence for a man who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving was handed down last week.
Tyler Wilson, 19, of Brooks, pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing death. The charge stems from a crash in 2013 that took the life of Jonathon David Wood, 33.
Wilson was sentenced to 30 months in jail and also received a five-year driving prohibition in Red Deer court last week.
An Agreed Statement of Facts showed Wilson attended several bars in Red Deer on the evening of Nov. 1st, 2013 and into the early morning hours of Nov. 2nd, 2013.
Wilson left Billy Bob’s Nightclub at about 2 a.m. and went to a friend’s house. His friend went to sleep after which Wilson left the residence. The Agreed Statement of Facts states at about 3:30 a.m. Wilson was operating a silver 2004 Dodge Ram pick up, driving northbound on 30th Ave. One witness noticed Wilson approaching at a high rate of speed and swerving all over the road – a collision analyst later determined he was driving 107 km/hr.
Wilson then hit the taxi cab with such force that it turned both vehicles counter clockwise and they were both facing the opposite direction with Wilson’s truck resting on its side. Wood, who was sitting in the rear of the cab, was thrown forward into the dashboard.
During the sentencing hearing in Red Deer last week, 11 victim impact statements were entered into the court for consideration – four of them were read aloud.
Kim Somerville-Keehn, a close friend of Wood’s, said she thinks about Wood everyday.
“Jon is everywhere and not a day goes by that I don’t cry. I think about Jon being stolen from us and I am angry. What has come from this grief and heartache? I am constantly afraid to be in a vehicle because of fear of something bad happening. I have anxiety and I constantly worry.
“For the rest of our lives we will miss Jon and love Jon. Someone is missing from every family function and his name is Jonathon David Wood. It’s not fair, it’s not right and it’s so senseless.”
Eric Church, Wood’s brother, said he thinks about his brother everyday.
“It is emotionally draining thinking how this was all preventable. I can’t sleep and the only sleep I get is when my body shuts down. A major stress in my life is that we will never get him back.
“Thirty-three years ago my brother was my mom’s first little guy, he will always be – her pain will stay with her forever.”
Lori Church, Wood’s mother, said her son’s death has left a void in her family’s lives.
“Jon Wood’s death is the single most impactful thing in my life. Losing Jon has made me step up my game – he was pivotal in the lives of many including mine. My heart hurts physically, my brain hurts physically and my body cries.”
Before a sentence was handed down, Wilson’s criminal record was also read in court and included youth charges for break and enter, unlawful confinement as well as a charge for failing to comply with a court order when he did not show up to check in with the RCMP one time after he was granted bail in 2013 following the crash in which the charges stem from.
In a report written by Wilson’s probation officer, she said Wilson admitted to drinking alcohol before driving on Nov. 2nd, 2013. He said he was tired that night as well.
In the same report, Wilson’s mother also expressed concern that her son was on a bad path when this incident occurred.
Crown Prosecutor Ed Ring asked the judge to consider a sentence of four and a half years in prison with a driving prohibition of 10 years after Wilson’s release.
“Dangerous driving causing death is not a less serious offense than impaired driving causing death. It is not an offense in this country to drive with alcohol in your system. One circumstance was the consumption of alcohol before the offense – and that was admitted by the accused.”
He added aggravating factors in the case included the speed in which Wilson was driving, the driving pattern pre-collision, the collision itself and the death caused by the collision, the cab driver’s injuries and alcohol consumption.
Defense lawyer Lorne Goddard said from day one Wilson intended to plead guilty to the charge of dangerous driving. “He has taken full responsibility.
“I have seen the video of him walking, I have read the facts. It’s my opinion that my client was not impaired at the time of the offense. This is a case of dangerous driving causing death and should be treated like that.”
Goddard asked the judge to consider a sentence of two to three years with a five-year driving prohibition.
Before a sentence was handed down, Wilson addressed the packed courtroom.
“The lawyers can’t begin to say how sorry I am. I live with this everyday and it will never leave my conscience,” he said. “I hope you can all leave with some closure. I am truly sorry.”