Ottawa

Crown seeks 5-year sentence for tow truck driver who killed father of 2

Citing an 'appalling driving record,' an Ottawa crown prosecutor is seeking a five-year sentence for Mohamed Haj-Saleh after he struck and killed 55-year-old Giai Ly in 2015.

Mohamed Haj-Saleh was speeding when he hit Giai Ly's car in 2015

Giai Ly was driving his Acura when he was killed in a crash at the corner of Meadowlands and Viewmount on Nov. 8, 2015. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

A prosecutor is seeking a five-year sentence for a tow truck driver he says showed a "blatant and egregious" disregard for the rules of the road when he ran a red light and collided with a car, killing a father of two teen girls.

Mohamed Haj-Saleh was speeding through the intersection of Meadowlands Drive and Viewmount Drive on the afternoon of Nov. 8, 2015, when he hit a Acura CSX being driven by 55-year-old Giai Ly.

Ly was killed in the crash, while his daughter Lisa was severely injured.

Haj-Saleh, who was 22 at the time, was convicted last month on one count each of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Evidence at the trial stated that Haj-Saleh was driving between 95 and 110 km/h in a 40 km/h residential zone at the time of the collision. Conditions were also clear that day.

'Profound disregard' for others' safety

Crown prosecutor Carl Lem told court that Haj-Saleh, now 26, had an "appalling driving record" leading up to the collision that included five speeding tickets, plus three Highway Traffic Act convictions just three days before Ly's death.

"He had a profound disregard for others' safety on the road," said Lem. "A just sentence must reflect the severity of Mr. Haj-Saleh's criminal acts." 

The crown is also seeking a 10-year driving prohibition for the tow truck driver.  

Members of Ly's family — including his wife, sister and daughter Tracy — were in court for the sentencing hearing.  More than half a dozen victim impact statements from his family were read in court.

Lem read from a statement by Ly's widow Jenny Wu, in which she described her husband as the primary income earner and the one who helped their daughters with their homework.

Wu said she was devastated by her husband's death.

"I am left feeling overwhelmed trying to fill his role and I can no longer sleep peacefully." she wrote. "I led a carefree life, and now I am a burden to my family. And it makes me feel humiliated and depressed." 

 Ly's daughter Lisa needed three months in hospital to recover from a head injury and a broken hip, leg, and collarbone.

It was like a black hole swallowed my soul.- Lisa Ly, who survived crash

She was not in the courtroom Thursday, but Lem also read from her statement.  

"Everything came crashing down, and it was like a black hole swallowed my soul,"  she wrote, adding that she has frequent flashbacks to the crash.

"I am paranoid and am worried that I can't be an independent individual." 

Tow truck driver Mohamed Haj-Saleh was convicted in September on one count each of dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (Robyn Miller/CBC)

Driver apologizes

Haj-Saleh, who was accompanied by two dozen friends and family members, addressed the court and offered his "deepest condolences and sincere apologies."

 "I have the utmost remorse," Haj-Saleh said, breaking down as he described his treatment for anxiety following the crash.

"I have had a lot of sad and sleepless nights, but I know that it pales in comparison to what the family has had to deal with," he added. "I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me as I did not intend for any of this to take place." 

Haj-Saleh's lawyer Leo Russomanno asked the court for a 12-month sentence for his client, with a three-to-five-year driving prohibition.  

Justice Robert Maranger is expected to hand down his sentence Oct. 18.