Man given fine, driving ban for 2019 Brandon crash that killed pedestrian

By | September 10, 2020

A man who hit and killed a woman crossing a Brandon, Man., intersection last fall has been given a fine and driving ban. 

The 41-year-old pleaded guilty to a Highway Traffic Act offence in Brandon provincial court on Thursday for turning when unsafe to do so. 

The man was driving a delivery van on Nov. 18, 2019, and attempted to make a left turn onto Park Avenue from 26th Street, Crown attorney Brett Rach told the court.

The driver had a green light and started to turn, but was blinded by the sun and didn’t see 75-year-old Judith Stuckel crossing the street before he hit her, Rach said.  

The cause of the fatal collision “could be described as an environmental factor and … lack of attention towards that in this case,” Rach said.

“It does not rise to more than a minor lapse in attention in this case,” he said, but “that’s not to minimize the seriousness of this offence.” 

Court was told the man immediately got out of his vehicle and tried to help Stuckel before emergency services arrived. She was taken to hospital, where she later died.

The man’s lawyer, Patrick Sullivan, also said a police report found the position and the sun and the shadow of a nearby building were significant factors.

He said his client wasn’t impaired, districted or otherwise driving abnormally at the time. Speed also wasn’t a factor. 

“He was to have taken a package to a different location and the plan changed and his route changed, and as a result he found himself at 26th and Park,” said Sullivan. 

The man was turning onto Park Avenue from 26th Street in Brandon when he hit a pedestrian, who later died in hospital. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

The Crown asked that the man be given a $2,500 fine and one-year driving suspension, while the defence asked for a $1,000 fine and no driving prohibition, saying the man’s livelihood is at risk if he isn’t able to drive. 

Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta settled on a fine of $3,000 and a two-month driving prohibition, saying a tougher sentence would further harm the man and his family. 

‘No hate in my heart for you’: family

The man, who moved to Brandon from Mauritius to work at the Maple Leaf Foods pork-processing plant before starting his own business, expressed remorse for the accident. 

“I would like to ask forgiveness of the family,” he told court, sobbing at times. “I know I have caused so much pain to them and have to face the consequences.”

He has been seeing a counsellor since the accident, Sullivan said, noting that the impact on his family has been significant. 

“I hope the family forgives me for what I did,” the man said. 

I pray that you can move on with your life. I know you have a family and you must be strong for them.– Family’s statement

In a victim impact statement read in court, Stuckel’s family said they harbour no ill will against the man. 

“Please know I have no hate in my heart for you,” the family’s statement, which was read in court by Rach, said. “I pray that you can move on with your life. I know you have a family and you must be strong for them.” 

Judge Hewitt-Michta said “a precious, much-loved woman was lost forever to her family.… I just can’t imagine the devastation that has brought upon that family.”  

No penalty can bring Stuckel back, she said.

“I really hate the task of assigning a fine amount where a life has been lost, because I fear people drawing a connection between the dollar amount and the life that was lost,” Hewitt-Michta said. 

“There is no correlation between the fine amount and the value of the life that was lost.” 

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