Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Driver in fatal crash tearfully pleads with judge not to send him to jail

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A Manitoba man cried Thursday while pleading with a judge to spare him a jail term for causing a spectacular car wreck that killed his friend.

"Sending me to jail is not going to help anyone. I'm not a bad person," Michael Teichroeb told provincial court Judge Fred Sandhu. "It will only make my life worse. There's nothing I can do to bring him back."

Teichroeb, 30, had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in a rollover the night of Feb. 13, 2010, leading to the death of Mike Tanner, 21, in hospital about two weeks later.

Teichroeb, Tanner and another man were driving to a party in Teichroeb's new BMW on Highway 59 when he gave in to pressure to show off what the car could do, court heard.

Teichroeb sped up to about 140 km/h in the 100 km/h zone but had to swerve to miss a car, which appeared when he turned his head away from the road momentarily.

His vehicle skidded on the dry pavement, rolled, became airborne and rolled again before coming to rest in the ditch, Sandhu was told.

Tanner, who was in the vehicle's back seat and not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected. He was found nearly seven metres away from the car, Crown attorney Shaun Sass said.

A doctor and his wife in the car Teichroeb had swerved to miss stopped to help. While the doctor tended to Tanner, his wife told police Teichroeb was on his knees by his side, crying and saying, "Please don't die," court was told.

There were "circumstantial" indications Teichroeb had been drinking, but he refused to provide a breath sample to RCMP and ultimately impairment couldn't be proven, court heard.

The Crown accepted his guilty plea to dangerous driving causing death.

Sass asked Sandhu to send Teichroeb to jail for up to two years, noting Tanner's family is "not in favour" of seeing a long sentence.

The victim's dad said in a victim-impact statement he was sure his son would forgive Teichroeb. Tanner's mother was in court. She and Teichroeb have attended mediation meetings and he's written an apology letter to Tanner's family, Sandhu was told.

Since the incident, Teichroeb has been to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and has volunteered at Winnipeg Harvest. Though he has a blemished driving record, he has only a dated and unrelated criminal record. He has acted "honourably" and has stayed out of trouble while on bail for the last 31/2 years, defence lawyer Darren Sawchuk said.

Sawchuk asked Sandhu to give Teichroeb a suspended sentence with two years of probation, saying the unusual sentence has been imposed by other judges in Manitoba.

Teichroeb will learn his fate Sept. 27.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2013 A9

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