DJ Hancock's parents call for stiffer drunk driving sentences
Walter Carter, 39, sentenced to 5 years in jail, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death
The family of an 18 year old killed by a drunk driver in Sudbury this summer says impaired driving sentences need to be tougher — but no penalty, no matter how stiff, could ever lessen their grief.
Walter Carter, 39, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death in the crash on Highway 17 that killed Dean Junior Hancock last August. He also pleaded guilty to three other charges.
DJ's parents, Kim and Dean Hancock, supported each other as they read their victim impact statements in court.
They were following their son's car as he drove home on Highway 17 after a hockey try-out.
In a statement of fact read in court, a police re-constructionist said Carter's pick-up truck crossed the centre line into the oncoming lane of traffic near Fielding late that night.
Another car managed to swerve onto the shoulder and avoid a crash. Carter continued on and hit Hancock's car. The pick-up spun around and another vehicle struck it.
Kim and Dean Hancock arrived minutes later to witness their son's death in the wreckage. An off-duty nurse at the scene said his legs were pinned under the dash. He was breathing when his parents got there, but died as he was lifted from the mangled car. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
His mother, Kim said she was robbed of a million life experiences with her son. Dean said the world seems big and empty without his son.
Through the parents' statements, Carter sat with his eyes cast down, crying quietly.He rose briefly in court to apologize to the Hancock family and his own.
In the statement, a woman who was drinking with Carter at a music festival the night of the accident said she watched as he got into his car to drive home. She told police she felt guilty for letting Carter drive home that night.
'It's not going to bring my son back'
Justice Randall Lalande said reference letters referred to Carter as hard-working and holding down two jobs. He noted that Carter's partner and mother of his two children had left him the year before because of his drinking.
Outside the courthouse, Kim Hancock expressed frustration.
"I think we all as a community and everybody has to fight for stiffer penalties," she said. "It's not going to bring my son back, but ten years would have been nicer than five."
Dean Hancock said Carter will eventually be able to go home to his children, but he will never get his son back.
Hancock said lives could be saved if people would speak up.
"If you see someone who is going to drink and drive, do something about it. Don't just hide behind the clouds. Do something about it. Go talk to someone. Go talk to them."
Hancock said it's too late to turn the clock back for his family.
But he will cherish the memories he has of DJ.
"He touched so many hearts like it's almost like every person he met, he left something with them."