May 09, 2013 - "PEOPLE DON'T GET IT", JUDGE TELLS STRING OF ACCUSED IMPAIRED DRIVERS


The human costs and criminal consequences of impaired driving were on full display Thursday as a stream of cases made their way through a single Kitchener courtroom.

The worst involved a 44-year-old woman who was on her way home from work in North Dumfries Township last fall when her car was hit head-on by a crack cocaine addict.

Tracy Sinclair had to be cut out of her vehicle after it crashed through a fence into a trailer park on Spragues Road, and the culprit fled on foot with two friends.

The Paris, Ont. woman spent two weeks in hospital and two months in a long-term care home with a head injury and several broken bones, including her pelvis, hip and tailbone.

The driver of the oncoming car, who had no licence or insurance, spent months on the lam before he was nabbed behind the wheel again while high on crack in Waterloo at 9 a.m. after a night of partying.

Court heard Joel Weckworth, 28, was going up to 140 km/h in the rain when he tried to pass a vehicle he had been tailgating and smashed into Sinclair on the two-lane road.

“To hear that the people who had hit me head-on at speed had run away without checking if I was alive or dead filled me with a revulsion I cannot explain,” she wrote in a lengthy victim impact statement.

Sinclair lost her job while recovering from her injuries and was using a cane to walk months after the crash.

Weckworth, who has a long record that includes a prior drunk-driving offence, pleaded guilty to crimes including dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

“For all he knew, there could have been a child in that car,” said Crown attorney Karey Katzsch. “What he chose to do was save his own skin and run from the scene.”

Weckworth got the equivalent of just 12 months in jail and 15 months on probation, plus a five-year driving ban, because the prosecution conceded it would have had a tough time proving he was actually the driver.

Defence lawyer Sean Safa said Weckworth has mental-health issues and a long-standing drug addiction, and was remorseful after sobering up in custody.

“He’s grateful this lady didn’t die,” Safa said.

There were also serious injuries when a New Hamburg man hit a culvert and flipped his car while driving with a friend in Wilmot Township after a night of drinking in September.

Tyler Zehr, who had no prior record, was sentenced to 90 days of weekends in jail and prohibited from driving for 18 months.

He broke his ankle and his friend, Kristian Sitzes, 23, broke her leg so badly she needed a plate, screws and an artificial hip socket.

“They’re extremely preventable — 100 per cent preventable,” prosecutor Cynthia Jennison said of such injuries. “Just don’t get in the car and drive.”

Court also heard details of several other drunk-driving cases. Included, in rapid succession, were:

 • A 24-year-old man who was reported to police by a McDonald’s manager after slurring his words at a Waterloo drive-through window at 5 a.m.

 •  A 42-year-old financial planner who drove to a secluded Kitchener walking trail to enjoy a cigar at 10 p.m. because he wasn’t allowed to smoke at home.

 •  A 31-year-old chef who caused a minor crash outside a Kitchener bar at closing time, vomited in a cruiser after his arrest and was so out of it police took him to the hospital.

“I think I should probably just get a recording and leave it up here,” quipped Justice Gary Hearn after delivering his fourth lecture by mid-morning.

“People don’t get it. You can’t drink and drive.”

Source: The Record


 

Last updated on: 2013-05-27 | Link to this post