A 47-year-old Sherwood Park man was sentenced to five years in prison Friday for a fatal crash he caused while driving drunk near Alberta Beach in 2009.

Rodney Ivan Flight floored his Corvette’s gas pedal in a 50 km/h zone after a day of drinking at a golf tournament. He quickly lost control of the car, crossed the centre line and slammed into a Buick headed in the opposite direction. Onoway man Robert Anton Zastrow, 67, was killed. His brother Jeffrey was seriously injured.

Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Monica Bast called drunk driving a “plague on society” as she sentenced Flight.

“It’s disturbing that these senseless and completely preventable deaths continue to happen because of impaired drivers,” the judge said. “A motor vehicle is akin to a weapon in the hands of an impaired driver.”

One after the other, several of Zastrow’s young grandchildren stood and read victim impact statements to the court.

“I was six years old when my grandpa died and it really scared me,” read Gage Turner, now nine, as he stood in the witness box in a shirt and tie. “I have a picture of grandpa in my bedroom, but I still miss him. I feel mad at the man who killed my grandpa. He made everybody sad. I don’t know why people would drink alcohol and drive in their car.”

Brooklyn Sterling, 12, remembers being awoken in the night to hear police were coming to her house. Her father told her to go back to bed and she found out her grandfather was dead in the morning. She froze, she told court, and couldn’t even move. Now that nearly four years have passed, she can no longer remember her grandfather’s voice and needs photographs to remind her of what he looks like.

Sterling Steed, 11, remembers having to explain to fellow students on Grandparent’s Day why his grandfather wasn’t there. Every time he sees a Mothers Against Drunk Driving commercial, he remembers his grandfather’s death.

“All because of you,” the boy told Flight. “The stupid drunk driver.”

Though young, Sterling remembered that his mother had been waiting to give Zastrow a gift the day he died, the same weekend as Father’s Day.

Gloria Zastrow, Robert’s widow, brought a framed picture of him to court and faced it toward Flight in the prisoner’s box.

“You have taken the life of my husband, my friend and my strength and part of me died with him that day,” she said through tears. “My husband’s death is clearly a result of your choices.”

As ten family members read statements to the court, more than a dozen supporters cried and shared tissues in the court gallery. They chuckled as memories were brought up, then cried again.

An avid outdoorsman, Zastrow was on a short trip to look at the lake at Alberta Beach in preparation for a Father’s Day boating trip when the fatal crash occurred.

When given the opportunity, Flight stood and apologized.

“The day of June 20, 2009 will always be remembered by me as a horrific and tragic day,” he said. “I am sorry from the bottom of my heart.”

Bast said she found Flight’s remorse hard to believe because of two previous impaired driving convictions and numerous speeding tickets, including one given to him as he awaited trial for the Zastrow crash.

“My belief in that remorse is shaken,” she said. “Mr. Flight doesn’t appear to have learned much from his two previous convictions for drunk driving.”

Flight was sentenced to five years in prison for impaired driving causing death and 3-1/2 years for impaired driving causing bodily harm. The sentenced will be served concurrently.

Upon his release, Flight will be banned from driving for eight years.

Source: The Edmonton Journal


Last updated on: 2013-06-22 | Link to this post