About 16 people, some in tears, attended the first court appearance of Johnathan Robert Pratt, the 28-year-old Beaumont man who is charged in connection with the accident that killed three young men in late November of last year.

“It is a relief the charges are public and Mr. Pratt is charged with these offenses, which already vindicates the boys’ names. We are looking forward to the full execution of these charges and we’re all anticipating guilty pleas or convictions,” commented Zane Novak, the father of Kole Novak, 18, one of the three young men killed in the accident.

Appearing via CCTV from the Edmonton Remand Centre (ERC), Pratt was seen in a wheelchair with bandages around his head.

He made his first court appearance in Leduc Provincial Court on Jan. 19.

Pratt is facing three counts of impaired operation causing death, three counts of driving while over the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08 mg causing death and three counts of manslaughter.

Pratt’s spoke only one word on the day, uttering “yes” to Judge T.J. Tjosvold when asked if his name was Pratt.

No pleas were entered during his first court appearance and he will reappear for his second appearance in Leduc Provincial Court on Feb. 16.

If convicted, Pratt faces prison time, with three counts of manslaughter, three counts of impaired operation involving death and three counts of over 80 mg causing death.

“The factors of speed and the amount of alcohol in combination with environmental conditions, no matter which way you added that up, the outcome would have been fatal,” said Const. Jodi Heidinger of the Leduc RCMP.

Police aren’t saying how much alcohol was in the man’s system or just how fast he was going when he allegedly caused the wreck that killed Novak, Bradley Arsenault, 18, and Thaddeus Lake, 22.

But Heidinger said the driver was “well above” legal limits for both, enough to meet the definition of manslaughter — culpable homicide, or causing the death of another by an unlawful act.

Pratt, the driver of the pickup truck, struck the Pontiac Grand Am the three boys were travelling in. Both vehicles were traveling east bound on Highway 625 at the time of the collision in the early morning hours of Nov. 26.

Although nothing will bring the three young men back, one of the results the families of the three want to see is a change to the justice system regarding punishments for drunk drivers.

“We want to see what we can do in our society to try and prevent drunk drivers from getting in the vehicle and driving in the first place, and then if they do, what can we do to maximize the punishment so it fits the crime,” said Zane.

“So often, there is so much death and destruction that has occurred and the sentences are so miniscule. That’s a travesty of justice and we want to see the change in the justice system.”

The families also want to make it clear their boys were the victims in the accident.

“It’s been a very frustrating process for us, because there has been so much gossip, rumours and speculation. They really were amazing kids and contributing members to the community,” commented Zane.

The three men and their families were all very close. Prior to the accident, Kole and his sister, Karmia, who was also Thaddeus’s girlfriend, were planning to move to Calgary while Brad and Thaddeus were planning on renting the Kovak’s place beginning in January. But it was all for naught.

“The impact of this has been devastating for my daughter and I, because it was like she lost two brothers and her boyfriend,” said Zane.

Bringing the three boys’ lives to justice and remembering them for who they were and what they represented is what the families want in the end.

Arsenault was an athlete and a hard worker starting at the age of 14, who tried to make sure everyone around him was having a good time.

The same can be said for Kole. “Brad played soccer and was the type of player who would always try to set the other kid up and get the goal.

“I think the greatest thing about Brad and Kole was their desire to make everyone in the room smile, even if it was at their own expense,” reminisced Zane.

“At Kole’s memorial, which was also for Brad and Thad, there was 450 pictures played in rotation and it would be impossible to find a picture of Kole where he wasn’t smiling.”

Lake was a very involved musician, but he was so much more than that, said Zane.

“Thad was a virtuoso musician, but he had so many other things to him. He was heavily involved with Kole, Karmia and I doing the charity work with the Maverick organization in Calgary. “

There was nothing Thad couldn’t do. His wit and charm were indescribable.”

The impact of losing the three young men will always be felt, but days after the accident there was a great support system, which the families are very grateful for, said Zane.

“We have been totally blown away by the support the community has given us in the days and weeks following this.”

Source: The Beaumont News


Last updated on: 2012-07-10 | Link to this post