VANCOUVER — A cyclist who fell several hundred metres behind two of his friends on the day they were hit and killed by a drunk driver says the accident scarred him for life.
Stewart Blaser told a B.C. Supreme Court sentencing hearing for Samuel Alec that when he recalls that day, “I want to curl up in a ball and cry.”
The court heard an agreed statement of facts Monday that said Alec, 42, was driving home from a friend’s funeral shortly before noon on Sunday, May 21, 2015, when he crossed the centre line and crashed head on with cyclists Kelly Blunden and Ross Chafe, who died instantly in the collision.
Paul Pierre Jr., a passenger in the vehicle and a man Alec considered to be a brother, was also killed in the collision.
Blaser told the court that the images from that day will haunt him forever.
“I recall walking towards the accident scene to check on my friends and saw a body part and bicycle debris everywhere. It was so horrific that I had to turn back. It made me sick.”
As he walked back to his seat Blaser paused and stared at Alec, fists tightened and jaw clenched.
Alec’s blood alcohol level was measured after the collision at about three times the legal limit, and numerous witnesses described him as visibly drunk and smelling of alcohol, the agreed statement of facts said.
Alec has more than 40 convictions on his criminal record, 22 of which are driving offences or relate in some way to the charges to which he’s pleaded guilty, Crown attorney Grace Oh said.
She described his record as lengthy, persistent, related and recent.
“It is truly significant and, in the Crown’s view and submission, an egregious criminal and driving history, related to repeatedly failing to comply with various orders,” she added.
Oh also referenced Alec’s pre-sentence report and a previous Gladue report, which directs the court to take into account circumstances facing Canada’s aboriginal people.
“Alec is a First Nations man, having a childhood in a large family, which was marred by periods of neglect and significant physical, emotional and sexual abuse,” she said, explaining that both his parents were residential school survivors.
“The family suffered the long-term effects of colonization.”
The Crown has recommended Alec be sentenced to 12 years in prison, and that he be barred from driving for up to 18 years. He has been held in custody since August 2015.
Alec slowly twirled an eagle feather in his hand as tears ran down his face while he listened from the prisoner’s box to victim impact statements from the friends and family of the three men killed.
Blunden’s mother, Penelope Day, spoke of her upbringing in Britain during the Second World War. Despite being taught to confront adversity with a stiff upper lip and not show her emotions, she said she can’t when it comes to the loss of her son.
“I’ve had almost two years to try and understand the senselessness of this man’s actions, but regardless I will forever be heartbroken,” she said.
“I love my son so dearly and miss him all the time. Death is so very, very final.”
The Crown read several statements to the court, including one from Lindsay Thevarge, Pierre Jr.’s daughter, who described the relationship between her young son and his grandfather.
“Deacon and his papa were inseparable. They loved each other to no end,” said the statement read in court.
“My son had just turned three shortly before his papa passed away. That is far too early to lose a papa.”
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Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press