This was the scene after a pickup truck backed into Papa Baldy’s restaurant in West Park on Feb. 1, 2018. Photo from Papa Baldy Facebook page

Driver who backed into Red Deer pizzeria sentenced

David Andrew Amstutz sentenced for failing to remain at the crash scene

A driver who backed his pickup truck into Red Deer’s Papa Baldy’s Pizza a year ago has been sentenced to 30 days in prison.

Judge Darrell Riemer also sentenced David Andrew Amstutz, 32, to one-year’s probation in Red Deer provincial court Thursday for his role in the Feb. 1, 2018, crash that badly damaged the West Park pizzeria at 3722 57th Ave. and injured a female employee.

Last September, Amstutz pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene of an accident in which a person was injured.

The Crown prosecutor asked for a three-month sentence and the defence wanted a large fine and probation.

Reading from a pre-sentence report, Riemer quoted Amstutz as saying he “freaked out” after his Dodge Ram truck smashed through the front of Papa Baldy’s at about 9 p.m., throwing the counter into an employee, who was sent flying. She suffered bruises and swelling after the crash.

Soon after the incident, Red Deer RCMP issued a news release providing a description of the suspect vehicle and seeking information about the crash. Amstutz turned himself into police the day after the collision.

Riemer said Amstutz said he had a couple of drinks at a restaurant hours before the crash and was not intoxicated. He did not know why he could not stop the truck before it hit the shop, but speculated something may have lodged under the brake pedal.

The judge quoted from victim impact statements by staff at Papa Baldy’s, including the injured woman who was working alongside her husband.

Each feared for their spouse’s life as the crash sent glass and restaurant fittings flying. The husband said the incident will be with his wife forever.

“That hurts my heart,” he wrote.

The business owner, who was not there at the time, wrote that she feared for the lives of her staff. The incident took a financial and emotional toll and she suffered from depression and couldn’t sleep as she tried to rebuild.

Papa Baldy’s reopened a couple of months after the crash and the pizzaria is now expanding.

Riemer said he accepted that Amstutz’s remorse for his actions is genuine and noted he had no prior criminal record and was the father of two children. But he should have known the collision could have injured people in the pizzeria before he drove off.

“Such behaviour requires a custodial response,” said the judge, who allowed the time to be served on weekends.

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