Driver who accidentally killed 2 gets suspended sentence

Banned from driving for 10 years

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A Winnipeg woman offered a tearful apology Friday to the families of two pedestrians she killed a horrific downtown crash.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/08/2010 (4490 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A Winnipeg woman offered a tearful apology Friday to the families of two pedestrians she killed a horrific downtown crash.

Lucy Muthoka, 52, was handed a two-year suspended sentence with probation after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death for the June 2008 incident near the intersection of Donald Street and St. Mary Avenue in downtown Winnipeg.

William Halcrow, 57, and James Ross, 58, were killed instantly after being hit by Muthoka’s Subaru Forester. The two friends were from the Cross Lake reserve in northern Manitoba and were in Winnipeg for medical treatment.

BORIS MINKEVICH/WINNIPEG FREE PR BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 080625 Various crash scene pictures near the corner of Donald St. and St. Mary Ave. The woman being escorted by paramedics was the driver of the crashed car that hit the fire hydrant.

“God being my witness, I never intended to harm. Words fail to express how sorry I am,” Muthoka told a large courtroom gathering which included family and friends of the two men. “I am more sorry than the world will understand. I will continue to pray for the healing of everyone affected by this. May God meet the needs of everyone whose lives were changed.”

Crown attorney Zane Tessler said Muthoka was an inexperienced driver who had just completed five refresher courses after purchasing a new car. While exiting a downtown parkade, she somehow hit the gas pedal instead of her brake and accelerated rapidly, striking several vehicles and people at the crowded intersection during rush-hour traffic.

Muthoka also hit a fire hydrant, which caused hundreds of litres of water to quickly flood the area. That hampered the police investigation because it was difficult to re-create the scene and figure out the sequence of events.

Several bystanders who witnessed the crash – and narrowly avoided being hit – tried frantically to revive the two gravely injured men, as did firefighters and paramedics upon arrival. A third man was pinned between two cars and suffered serious injuries, as did the drivers of two other vehicles.

“The degree of resulting carnage was substantial,” said Tessler. Muthoka wasn’t intoxicated or distracted by anything such as a cellular phone or texting, court was told. It was a “perfect summer day” with clear skies and dry roads.

Muthoka has no prior criminal record and is a devoutly religious single mother who has spent the past decade working for Agriculture Canada. She is originally from Kenya and serves as an elder within the local community, along with being heavily involved in her church. More than 30 people filed glowing letters of support on her behalf.

“Her sense of guilt is enormous,” said defence lawyer Saul Simmonds. “This is a decent, honest, hardworking person. It’s the nightmare for everyone who gets behind the wheel.”

The families of both victims made emotional impact statements in court, describing how both men were loved and respected by their community.

“The pain of loss is excruciating,” said Ross’ sister, Betty. “To lose someone in such a sudden, unexpected and inhumane way.”

The sentencing judge said this case was especially difficult given the tragic circumstances, Muthoka’s obvious lack of intent and her glowing background. He said no punishment can undo the damage caused or bring the victims back.

He ordered Muthoka to perform 240 hours of community service work and banned her from driving for a 10-year period. Muthoka also expressed a desire to meet with the families of the victims and make a charitable donation on their behalf, if they wished.

Mike McIntyre

Mike McIntyre
Sports columnist

Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.

History

Updated on Friday, August 20, 2010 12:50 PM CDT: Live blog cancelled.

Updated on Friday, August 20, 2010 3:31 PM CDT: Adds details of sentence, statements

Updated on Friday, August 20, 2010 3:32 PM CDT: Adds video

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