A Winnipeg motorist says "panic" caused him to flee after he struck and killed a cyclist, and he will forever regret the cowardly act.
Mike Haines, 27, pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act and to leaving the scene of an accident under the Criminal Code. The Crown agreed to drop a more serious charge of criminal negligence causing death.
Haines was in court Friday for sentencing, where the Crown requested up to nine months behind bars. Defence lawyer Mike Cook argued for a hefty fine, probation and community service. Provincial court Judge Ray Wyant has reserved his decision.
"There are no words I can express to let you know how sorry I am," Haines told the victim's husband, two children and two grandchildren who were in court. "Who would know two to three seconds could change people's lives forever?"
Linda Preston, 42, was riding her bike in the early morning of June 17, 2010, when she was hit by a vehicle near Main Street and Sutherland Avenue. She was rushed to hospital but died of her injuries. An autopsy revealed she was intoxicated at the time, with more than triple the maximum blood-alcohol level allowed to drive a vehicle. She was also wearing dark clothing and had no reflective lights on her bike.
However, Haines admitted he took his eyes off the road for several seconds and never saw Preston in his path. Her body slammed against his windshield and flew nearly 10 metres through the air, court was told. Haines drove away from the scene, travelling several blocks, removed an unopened case of beer from his car and then returned to the area six minutes after the crash.
"He thought it would look bad to have a case of beer in his vehicle," Cook told court Friday. But he said his client, who was on his way home from work at a hotel, hadn't consumed any alcohol.
"Every day he's going to look in the mirror and see the reflection of the person who killed Linda Preston. I don't think he's ever going to be able to shake this," Cook said.
Haines confessed, telling police he didn't see Preston until it was too late.
Crown attorney Jeff Nichols said Friday a message must be sent to Haines and other motorists that this sort of conduct has serious consequences.
"A punitive sanction that involves jail is necessary," he said.