A drunk driver who “basically destroyed” a Condor family has been jailed for three years.
Gordon George Lee, 54, of Sylvan Lake pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in a Feb. 9, 2007 around 5:30 p.m. crash near Sylvan Lake.
Lee, who cried softly throughout most of the sentence hearing in Red Deer provincial court, was also prohibited from driving for five years after he’s released from prison.
Judge Thomas Schollie said the victim impact statement was one of the most honest and tragic statements he’s read.
“That family has been basically destroyed,” Schollie said. “It’s very unhappy.
“I wished I could do something for the family but there’s nothing I can do,” the judge said. The crash on Hwy 11 near Range Road 22, killed Robert Croteau, 16, and severely injured his father Gordon.
The young man’s mother Anita was also seriously injured. The father suffered numerous injuries that hospitalized him for several months and required several follow up operations.
The man still can’t walk without assistance and will suffer chronic pain for life, Crown prosecutor Anders Quist told court.
“The crash was catastrophic and a devastating loss to the parents,” Quist said.
Schollie said from the impact statement it appeared the dead youth “welded the loving family together.”
Court heard Lee had been at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre on the morning of the crash for a “minor” heart attack or stroke. The doctor advised him not to drive but Lee went to work.
While at work co-workers were so concerned they offered to drive Lee home but he refused. Quist said the co-workers assumed someone was driving him home but he drove anyway.
Quist also said samples of Lee’s blood revealed his blood alcohol content at the hospital may have been as high as .21 at 12:40 p.m. When he was taken to hospital with his own serious crash injuries his blood alcohol content was estimated at .24.
Defence lawyer Will Willms said Lee has always taken responsibility for the crash and didn’t want to delay the outcome longer. He said Lee has no recollection of the day. Lee also now suffers from pancreatic cancer which is not progressing at present and just received word he has a permanent brain injury.
Willms said his client is destitute and incapable of employment. He previously held several journeyman tickets, drove chuckwagaons and worked as a rodeo clown.