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Crown seeks 7 years for driver in fatal collision

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Winnipeg police at the scene of a collision on Isabel Street. The driver responsible may face up to seven years in prison.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Winnipeg police at the scene of a collision on Isabel Street. The driver responsible may face up to seven years in prison. Photo Store

Manitoba Justice officials are seeking a total of seven years in prison for a young Winnipeg drunk driver who sped through four red lights in a car packed with friends, crashed and killed a pedestrian last winter.

Dakota Smoke, 19, previously pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and leaving the scene of a collision for the mayhem he unleashed near Notre Dame Avenue and Isabel Street around 6 a.m. Feb. 15.

The full facts of the case were revealed by Crown prosecutors Nadine Vasas and Chris Vanderhooft during a sentencing hearing Friday morning.

Smoke and friends had been out partying and drinking beer the night before when he elected to get behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Impala with five others inside.

Prior to smashing into a Honda CRV while cruising along Isabel, witnesses described watching him blow through three red lights, before running another at Isabel and Notre Dame, Vasas said.

He T-boned the Honda at "highway speed," pushing it up on the sidewalk as a 53-year-old woman just happened to be walking by. She was critically injured and died after being rushed to hospital.

Smoke fled the scene on foot and left his friends — some of them injured — behind. Some described having to crawl out of the vehicle and pull others from the wreckage.

Smoke, who as a youth saw a relative killed in a DUI-related crash, wasn't arrested until two days later. One passenger told police Smoke was "plastered."

Others described screaming at him to slow down before the collision.

A police reconstruction of the crash found Smoke was solely responsible for what happened.

The Crown is seeking five years behind bars for the impaired-driving fatality, with a consecutive term of two years for his "cowardly" act of running away from the scene.

The sentence, if approved by provincial court Judge Rocky Pollack, would be among the stiffest ever seen in Manitoba for a youthful offender with no record of prior driving problems.

Smoke had a beginner's licence and by statute was to maintain a blood-alcohol level of zero.

Sentencing continues this afternoon.

 

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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