A Winnipeg man has taken responsibility for a high-speed, high-profile crash that put the lives of six Shaftesbury High School students in grave danger.
Sasha Brownscombe, 21, pleaded guilty Wednesday to dangerous driving causing bodily harm for the November 2009 rollover. He admitted being behind the wheel of a Jeep when he lost control, hit a curb and flipped on Grant Avenue.
Brownscombe and five other teens were inside the vehicle, which had been seen weaving and speeding down the street. The group was heading from their school to a nearby McDonald’s for lunch when the accident happened. Most of the occupants were not wearing seat belts.
Brownscombe’s case has crawled through the justice system for more than three years, including a preliminary hearing in which a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to proceed to trial.
Crown and defence lawyers said Wednesday they had not reached a deal on sentencing, which has been adjourned until later this spring. Brownscombe remains free on bail.
"He was swerving from left to right. He was doing it on purpose. I was scared," passenger Jessica Smith, then 15, told the Free Press at the time. Several witnesses at the scene also claimed the driver was talking on his cellular phone at the time of the crash.
"I had that anxious feeling like in a movie and there’s a car scene and you know something bad is going to happen. A second later, what I predicted came true," Smith said. "They told me we flipped over four times. I blacked out so I only remember two times."
Several occupants, including Smith, suffered a variety of cuts, bruises and pain stemming from the incident. All of the occupants were ejected upon impact except for a front-seat passenger who was wearing his seat belt.
Immediately after the accident, Smith said Brownscombe was lying on the ground and cursing.
"He was like, ‘My life is ruined. What’s going to happen to me?’" she said.
Prosecutor Chris Vanderhooft said Wednesday that specific details of the case wouldn’t be revealed until the sentencing hearing.