Court proceedings involving an Airdrie man who caused a fatal collision near Rocky Mountain House have exposed serious flaws in Canada’s criminal justice system, says the wife of the man who was killed.
On June 15, 2013, Rocky resident Wayne Rinas, 52, was heading north on Hwy 22, about 15 km north of Rocky, when his pickup truck was struck head-on by a southbound pickup truck driven by Peter MacLaurin, 25, of Airdrie.
MacLaurin was sentenced to two years and nine months in Rocky Mountain House provincial court on Tuesday, after pleading guilty to criminal negligence causing death. He was also prohibited from driving for five years and was ordered to provide a DNA sample for the national database.
Other charges, including impaired driving causing death and dangerous driving causing death, were withdrawn once the guilty plea was accepted.
The victim’s wife, Marilyn Rinas, said she has been left with feelings of shock, disbelief, numbness and anger.
Rinas said her meetings with the Crown prosecutor and sitting in court during MacLaurin’s appearances opened her eyes to the need for stronger laws to discourage people from getting behind the wheel when they’ve been drinking.
Facts that stick out in her mind were that MacLaurin’s blood alcohol was almost three times the legal limit and that his speed was calculated at 168 km/h at the collision site, near the junction of Hwys 22 and 12. The speed limit there is 100 km/h.
Another driver made note of MacLaurin’s truck speeding, weaving back and forth across the road and making unsafe passes before the impact. He stopped at the scene to help out, she said.
Rinas and other members of the family, including her two sons and her husband’s two brothers, have been helped through the court process by Leduc resident Sheri Arsenault, a representative of Families for Justice.
Arsenault and another woman formed the organization in 2010, after she lost a son and two friends in an alleged impaired driving collision. That incident is still before the courts, said Rinas.
One of Wayne’s brothers joined the group, which is why Arsenault attended court with the family on Tuesday, she said.
Arsenault’s support was “phenomenal,” including her knowledge of the process and the people involved, said Rinas.
“Yesterday, there was still lots of anger,” she said.
“We’ve never been in something like this before, and have learned first-hand about the justice system. You know, you hear stories, but we had no idea. There needs to be changes made.”
Rinas said she would like to have seen MacLaurin convicted on more of the charges against him, along with the heftiest possible sentences for those offences.
“A lot of yesterday was a blur for me,” she said.
Wayne and Marilyn Rinas would have celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary on June 29.