No jail time for man found guilty of careless driving in cyclist death
Kindergarten teacher Jay Keddy died on Dec. 2 when he was riding a bike up the mountain
Guy McPhee will avoid time in jail for striking and killing Hamilton cyclist Jay Keddy on the Clarement Access in December, 2015.
In a death blamed on a moment of divided attention that has left a grieving family permanently changed, McPhee received a $2,000 fine, an absolute driving prohibition for 120 days and 120 hours of community service over a 12-month probation period.
He was found guilty of careless driving on July 14 in provincial offences court.
McPhee, 57, was behind the wheel of his pick-up truck when he struck and killed Keddy, 53, a Hamilton teacher and father of three who was riding up the access at dusk on Dec. 2, 2015.
McPhee had been driving in a section of the access that was closed for construction and was down to one lane. It had just opened back up to three lanes, and he was in the midst of making a lane change when he struck Keddy, court heard.
McPhee's lawyer, Dean Paquette, had previously characterized what happened as a "case of divided attention."
Justice of the peace Eileen Walker accepted that McPhee didn't see Keddy before, during, or after the impact.
I feel very gratified she didn't put my client in custody- Dean Paquette, McPhee's lawyer
At sentencing, McPhee expressed his sorrow for the Keddy family. He says it's something that will be with him for the rest of his days.
"You are in our hearts," said McPhee. "We think of you often."
Paquette says he thinks the justice of the peace was very thoughtful, thorough and concise.
"There's no winners here. Everybody loses." The whole process is devastating to everybody," said Paquette.
"For a moment while travelling up the Claremont Access strikes a cyclist who he had no reason to believe would be there and given his clothing and given the circumstances, didn't see him, but was convicted because there was an expectation he had an opportunity to see him and should have seen him. He didn't," said Paquette.
Paquette says he's relieved McPhee didn't receive a jail sentence, which the Crown was asking for.
"I feel very gratified she didn't put my client in custody as the Crown wanted," said Paquette.
Paquette says he knew McPhee was relieved.
"I didn't have to hear him," said Paquette. "I sensed a relief."
McPhee, who is a real estate broker, previously testified that he did not see Keddy at the time of the impact, or after the fact when he stopped his truck to look around the roadway after he thought he had hit something.
The crown was asking for 90 days in jail and an 18-month suspension of McPhee's license.
A conviction on a careless driving charge comes with a fine between $400 and $2,000, a possible six months in jail, and the possibility of a license suspension for up to two years, according to the Highway Traffic Act.
Outside the Hamilton courtroom, assistant Crown attorney, Nancy Flynn summarized how both sides were feeling.
"It's really just a tragic case for both sides," said Flynn.
Flynn reiterated comments made by the justice of the peace about safety for cyclists in the city.
"Her worship's comments about the media's attention, has heightened society's and the community's awareness to cyclists and hopefully cyclists are safer on our streets. I think was the message she was conveying," said Flynn.
The justice of the peace took several factors into account in making her decision. She says she had to consider both the "offence and the offender."
On Friday the court heard two victim impact statements, one from Keddy's wife, Ingrid Keddy and one from Keddy's son, Allastair.
"How do you tell your children that their dad was killed by a pick-up truck while riding his bike home?" said Keddy's wife. "His death that night affected a lot of people, his family, friends, colleagues, students and many others. Jay's life touched a lot of people."
'In a single moment, without any sort of preparation, my dad was taken away from me' - Allastair Keddy, son of Jay Keddy
Keddy explained that her husband, a senior kindergarten teacher at Prince of Wales, was cheering on the school' girl's volleyball team before starting his journey.
She said his supper was waiting for him and texted him a couple of times to see where he was, with no response. Keddy was also supposed to attend a church meeting so she wondered if he went directly there.
"One of the pastors called just past 6:30 asking if Jay was on his way to the meeting. I started to panic right away and got a sick feeling in my stomach."
Son Allastair Keddy spoke after his mother.
"In a single moment, without any sort of preparation, my dad was taken away from me and my family. Ever since that moment, life has not been the same for my family and I," said Keddy.
"I know the maximum sentence for McPhee's actions can't bring my Dad back, but hopefully it can bring some accountability and his sentence can be an example of how all drivers should have full attention to the road. Maybe this could save more lives in the future.
The death got the attention of cyclists and safe streets advocates, who publicly denounced the lack of bike lanes in the area, and rallied for safer streets, something Keddy's wife mentioned during her statement Friday.
"Every time I drove past someone riding a bike I would get very emotional and worry about them. I still worry a lot about people riding their bikes." said Keddy. Many drivers don't share the road like they are supposed to. Something to be done about this."
This is the second trial. The first was declared a mistrial.
Within four days of the first trail, the judge declared a conflict because someone spoke to him about McPhee in a favourable fashion, which rendered him incapable of being impartial, says Paquette.
The second trial took course over six days.
With files from Adam Carter