Dangerous driving verdict due

A judge was set to deliver a verdict this morning in the case of a man charged with dangerous driving related to a crash that left a man with severe burns on almost half his body.

A judge was set to deliver a verdict this morning in the case of a man charged with dangerous driving related to a crash that left a man with severe burns on almost half his body.

Justice Keith Yamauchi adjourned a two-day Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench trial on Tuesday to consider his decision on a charge of dangerous driving causing bodily harm against Mark Chandler Burns, 24, of the Lacombe area.

Court heard Burns ran a stop sign at the intersection of Hwys 601 and 56 about 15 km north of Stettler on June 18, 2008.

Burns ran into a vehicle driven by David Thiessen of the Settler area, whose vehicle was knocked onto its roof where it caught fire.

Thiessen, in his mid 50s, suffered third-degree burns to about 30 per cent of his body and second degree burns to 12 per cent of his body.

Bystanders were able to spray fire extinguishers on the victim’s facial area, saving him from head burns.

Thiessen has endured several skin grafts since.

He didn’t testify because he has no memory of the crash or anything for two and four weeks before and after the crash, Crown prosecutor Tony Bell told court.

Bell told Yamauchi that Burns should be found guilty because the driving pattern was clearly dangerous.

Bell said Burns failed to pay attention to his surroundings for at least six seconds before the crash.

Cpl. Gord Baker, an RCMP collision analyst, testified that Burns only applied his brakes two seconds before impact.

He said the intersection was clearly marked for a distance of 305 metres with stop signs on the pavement, stop signs in the ditch and four rumble strips.

The road was dry and visibility clear.

“The accused ignored seven warnings” before and at the intersection, Bell said.

“He was driving at a marked departure from what we expect and demand from people who drive,” Bell said.

Burns testified that he has little or no memory of the crash.

He said he remembered being frightened when he realized he was about to smash into Thiessen’s vehicle.

“I remember I was moving far too fast.

“I went through the stop sign at highway speed,” he said.

The speed limit before the intersection was 100 km/h on both highways.

Burns told defence lawyer Arnold Piragoff that he hasn’t driven since the crash and is afraid of being in a vehicle.

“I feel absolutely horrible” about what the crash did to Thiessen.

“We spoke briefly this morning and he was very kind,” Burns said.

“This will live with me the rest of my life that I almost killed someone,” Burns said with his voice breaking.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com