Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Kelvin student gets probation for deadly crash

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A photo of Julia Romanow, who died in the deadly crash on Nov. 1, 2012, sits on a table in her mother's home.

JOE BRYKSA / FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

A photo of Julia Romanow, who died in the deadly crash on Nov. 1, 2012, sits on a table in her mother's home.

A teenaged novice driver behind the wheel of a speeding SUV that crashed and claimed the life of a schoolmate won't serve any jail time.

The driver, now 18, pleaded guilty in provincial youth court today to dangerous driving that killed Julia Romanow-Bear, 17, on Nov. 1, 2012.

Three other teen passengers in the vehicle were also injured, two of them seriously, Judge Heather Pullan was told.

All of the occupants were students at Kelvin High School and the crash happened as the youths were on a noon-hour break.

They had gone to get sandwiches at Tim Hortons and were moving along Wellington Crescent at a high rate of speed, court heard.

The driver lost control at a curve half a kilometre west of the St. James Bridge, went off the road and hit a tree.

The data recorder from the vehicle showed it was moving at 108 km/h in what is a 50 km/h zone, Crown attorney Susan Baragar said.

Romanow-Bear was in the rear of the Pontiac Torrent and was thrown from inside.

The youth piloting the vehicle had just obtained his intermediate licence only six weeks prior, Pullan was told.

After the fatal crash, the youth made considerable efforts to apologize to the surviving victims and Romanow-Bear's parents and demonstrated real remorse for what happened.

All of the victims and their survivors requested that he not be sent to jail for what was described in court as "a tragic mistake" and "a tragic choice."

"His life has been profoundly affected by guilt and remorse," the families of the crash survivors wrote in a letter to the Crown.

Romanow-Bear's parents suggested he be ordered to speak publicly to school-aged youth about the crash, in hopes it would prevent similar tragedies.

The terms of a two-year-long probation order Pullan sentenced him to require him to give four such presentations.

Pullan also barred him from driving for two years time. He had no criminal record.

"The outcome of your conduct was an unspeakable tragedy beyond words," Pullan told him.

The youth was seen wiping away tears several times during the hearing as his ashen-faced parents looked on.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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