Alberta man pleads guilty in road deaths of 4 teens

The man charged in the deaths of four high school football players in a car crash near Grande Prairie, Alta., pleaded guilty to reduced charges Tuesday.

Brendan Holubowich responsible for crash that killed Composite High School athletes

A man pleaded guilty in the crash that killed 4 high school football players 2:38

The man charged in the deaths of four high school football players in a car crash near Grande Prairie, Alta., pleaded guilty to reduced charges Tuesday.

Brendan Holubowich, 23, pleaded guilty in an overflowing courtroom to four counts of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing injury .

Holubowich originally faced 16 charges, including impaired driving causing death and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

Zach Judd, the sole survivor of the crash, attended Tuesday's sentencing hearing. (Briar Stewart/CBC News)

The Crown and defence made a joint submission asking for a three-year sentence. The judge will announce the decision on Wednesday morning.

Holubowich stood up in court and apologized to the families.

"From the bottom of my heart, I want to apologize to all of you," he said, as his eyes filled with tears. 

"I do not expect you to forgive me, but I hope you can accept my apology."

On Oct. 22, 2011, Holubowich was driving a pickup truck that hit a car carrying five members of the Grande Prairie Composite High School Warriors football team.

Holubowich admitted he was driving up to 151 km/h on the stretch of road south of Grande Prairie, which has an 80 km/h speed limit. 

Court heard that at the point of impact, Holubowich was travelling at 120 km/h.

Vincent Stover, 16, Walter Borden-Wilkins, 15, Tanner Hildebrand, 15, and Matthew Deller, 16, all died in the crash, while Zachary Judd spent weeks in a coma, eventually recovering from brain injuries and a fractured skull.

'I will never be the same'

The courtroom was packed with family and supporters of the victims, many wearing the high school's orange colours, as the judge heard victim impact statements.

Judd, who was in a coma for several weeks after the crash, talked about the toll the incident has taken on his life.

"I had to learn to walk and talk again," Judd told the court. " I will never be the same."

Holly Borden, mother of Walter Borden-Wilkins, told reporters outside the courthouse that her family has been greatly affected by her son's death.

"I have a little girl in a wheelchair at home who cries for her brother," Borden said.

Borden was unhappy with the sentencing recommendation.

"It's not doing anything, it's not changing anything," she said.  "If nothing gets changed, how are people going to learn?"

Grande Prairie is 460 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.