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Driver fined, sentenced to probation for crash that caused gas leak in Sylvan Lake

With his driver’s licence in tow this time, a Three Hills man learned his sentence on Thursday for wrecking a utility building, breaking a gas line and causing an evacuation in Sylvan Lake.

Thomas James Hanger, 22, pleaded guilty to charges of public mischief for filing a false police report and dangerous driving Monday in Red Deer provincial court. However, Judge David Plosz refused to sentence Hanger without being able to take his driver’s licence on Monday.

Hanger returned to Red Deer provincial court Thursday with his licence in hand and turned it over to the court.

While drafting up the conditions of Hanger’s probation, Plosz said it was too bad he “couldn’t put in a clause about honesty, because you’re a liar and that’s something you have to learn.”

Plosz then sentenced Hanger to two years probation, a $5,000 fine and a one-year driving prohibition. Hanger must also pay $26,417.30 in restitution for the damage he caused to the Telus building in Sylvan Lake at the corner of 50th Avenue and 50th Street.

At about 5 a.m. on March 22, part of the town’s centre had to be evacuated when a pickup truck went through a wall of the Telus building.

Plosz dressed Hanger down, pointing out the egregiousness of how Hanger had reported the vehicle stolen later that morning.

Then he texted people who witnessed the incident and asked them to lie.

In the agreed statement of facts, Hanger had been drinking with three friends before the crash and they had been cruising around town with Hanger at the wheel.

They had been deliberating fishtailing the truck, but Hanger spun out of control while northbound on 50th Street.

When the truck hit the wall of the Telus building it ruptured a gas line just outside of the building.

It was only when police confronted Hanger with evidence from the scene, including footprints that matched the shoes he was wearing and biological evidence from the face of a friend who had hit the windshield, that Hanger confessed to the crash.

Defence counsel Dana Carlson had previously accepted the restitution, asked that his client be given a considerable amount of time to pay due to the amount of money. Plosz agreed, giving Hanger until June 1, 2016, to pay back Telus.

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