‘Do not ask me for forgiveness’

Family details pain of loss at sentencing hearing for 2020 fatal crash


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“I try hard not to think of how my daughter died at your hands, but it’s hard not to,” a grieving Candace Volk told a Winnipeg court Friday.

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This article was published 15/10/2021 (471 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

“I try hard not to think of how my daughter died at your hands, but it’s hard not to,” a grieving Candace Volk told a Winnipeg court Friday.

“Did she see your truck coming? Did she know what was going to happen? Was she in pain? Did she cry out? I wasn’t there to protect my daughter or comfort her as she passed, and it’s pain and guilt I live with daily.”

Volk read nearly a dozen witness statements before Judge Wanda Garreck as sentencing submissions began for a man convicted of killing a mother and her infant son in a crash while fleeing a police traffic stop.

HANDOUT / Jessica Bird Photo / The Canadian Press Jennifer Dethmers

“Do not ask me for forgiveness, that word is not in my vocabulary for you… Creator… have mercy on your soul,” Volk said as she described the turmoil her family has experienced.

Jennifer Dethmers, 30, and nine-month-old son Anthony (nicknamed Bambino) died after a vehicle driving at high speed collided with their van near Boyd Avenue and Andrew Street on Sept. 26, 2020.

Volk told court the family had been preparing for Halloween and had been sending her videos that morning of Anthony crawling around their decorated house.

“Instead of planning a Halloween party,” she said Friday through tears. “We were planning Bambino’s funeral.”

Armand Chartrand, 44, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and three counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm during proceedings in June.

The Crown recommended nine years behind bars, while the defence argued for a seven-year jail term.

On Friday, the court heard Chartrand’s driver’s licence had been suspended for 26 years at the time of the crash.

Crown attorney Manoja Moorthy said police attempted to stop Chartrand’s vehicle around Main Street and Mountain Avenue, as it had inactive plates, but the driver fled at a high speed.

In two minutes, the court heard, Chartrand drove eight city blocks at an average speed of 112 km/h and ran three stop signs before colliding with the van. At the time of the crash, Chartrand’s vehicle was estimated to be going between 109 and 117 km/h on a 50 km/h road.

All four occupants of the van were injured in the crash.

Dethmers was pronounced dead on-scene; her infant son was taken to hospital in critical condition. He died a month later (Oct. 28) from his injuries. Anthony’s father and his six-year-old daughter suffered multiple injuries.

Moorthy said Chartrand first told officers a passenger in his vehicle — who also suffered injuries — told him not to stop, but police later heard the passenger had asked Chartrand to stop.

Chartrand told his passenger he did not want to stop because he did not have a valid licence, the Crown said.

Police reported Chartrand was “belligerent” at the scene. Moorthy noted his lengthy record, including several convictions related to dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, car thefts and Highway Traffic Act violations.

“The message has to be that the next time an individual, motivated by self-interest, such as this offender, decides to say they’re going to outrun the police… impaired by nothing but their own selfishness, the message has to be the court will take this seriously,” Moorthy said.

“What we’re left with is a family that’s lost two generations.”

Defence lawyer Matthew Gould told the court Chartrand had no excuses to offer, calling his client’s actions a “spontaneous, incredibly stupid decision” with “catastrophic results.”

Gould disputed the Crown’s argument Chartrand’s behaviour toward police at the scene amounted to an aggravating factor, arguing his client had been remorseful throughout the process.

“I know that there are no actions that can ever change what has happened, and all my words being spoken might seem empty,” Chartrand told the court.

“I know that there is no step that I can take to bring back Jennifer and Anthony… I will forever be haunted by the reality of what I have done, and I am truly sorry.”

Garreck is expected to deliver a sentencing decision in early December.

Twitter: @jsrutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers

Julia-Simone Rutgers is a climate reporter with a focus on environmental issues in Manitoba. Her position is part of a three-year partnership between the Winnipeg Free Press and The Narwhal, funded by the Winnipeg Foundation.

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