Family members of Kyle Gallant and Jamie Bone broke down as they read victim impact statements in court on Tuesday at the sentencing of an Ontario man who was driving the Jeep Cherokee that crashed and killed two of his passengers in eastern P.E.I.
James Miners of Sarnia, Ont., was sentenced to 16 months in jail and two years probation on dangerous driving charges in connection with the fatal crash last year. The 19-year-old is also banned from driving for two years.
He pleaded guilty Monday in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown to two counts of dangerous driving.
In September 2008, Miners was driving the jeep with four passengers when he went off the road near Poole's Corner. Gallant, 19, of Wilmot Valley, P.E.I., and Bone, 18, of Fredericton, died at the scene. The two other passengers suffered injuries.
The victims' family members told Justice Wayne Cheverie their lives had been torn apart by a senseless, preventable tragedy.
Joanne Frederickson, Gallant's mother, said her son's death has brought a seemingly endless wave of grief.
"It destroyed us, our son is gone forever," she said, clutching a photo of her son outside the courthouse. "We have a life sentence."
Darlene Levesque, Bone's mother, agreed.
"There's nothing I can do or say to … get my son back," she said, fighting back tears.
In an agreed statement of facts, court documents show that earlier on the day of the crash, Miners was pulled over by police near Charlottetown for travelling 118 km/h in a 70 km/h zone. The officer did not have his ticket book with him and issued a warning.
An off-duty police officer observed the vehicle while it was travelling back to Georgetown, where the five occupants of the vehicle were students at Holland College. He described the Jeep passing four vehicles at once, travelling at speeds in excess of 130 km/h in a 90 km/h zone and narrowly avoiding a collision with an oncoming vehicle in a no-passing zone.
Three other witnesses described the Jeep travelling well in excess of the speed limit that day. Analysis of the crash scene suggested the Jeep was travelling 132 km/h in a 60 km/h zone.
"This particular case hurts because we have such young people —18, 19 years of age," said Crown attorney Lisa Goulden. "They do feel invincible and what they have to see and take from this is that they are not.
"That is the message that I hope that we deliver today."
Cheverie agreed to the joint recommendation of the Crown and defence in delivering the sentence. He said what happened was not an accident, because Miners had not been drinking that day and made the decision to speed.
Through his lawyer, Miners told Cheverie that saying sorry was not sufficient. He said he hoped to find a way to honour the memory of his two lost friends once he got out of jail.