Driver who killed five in crash granted day parole

A man convicted of killing five people when he smashed his cement truck into the back of their car has been granted day parole.

DRUMHELLER — A man convicted of killing five people when he smashed his cement truck into the back of their car has been granted day parole.

Daniel Tschetter, 55, had already been spotted driving dangerously before his truck slammed into a vehicle stopped at a red light in Calgary in December 2007. The impact was so violent that pieces of the car were scattered for hundreds of metres along Macleod Trail, a busy north-south thoroughfare.

He was sentenced in October 2009 to 5 1/2 years in prison for manslaughter and obstruction of justice. He is also banned from ever driving a commercial vehicle again.

Tschetter made another bid for parole Wednesday during a hearing at the Drumheller Penitentiary.

Cory Black, a National Parole Board spokeswoman, said Tschetter was denied full parole, but was granted permission to live in a halfway house.

She said the board imposed a number of conditions. Tschetter isn’t allowed to drive, consume alcohol or contact the families of his victims.

He had already been granted unescorted temporary visits to his home once a month. If he is not granted full parole, he is scheduled to be released from prison June 16, 2013.

Court heard during Tschetter’s trial that he was speeding and driving erratically when his truck crushed the passenger car with three children and two adults inside.

Sixteen-month-old Zachary Morrison; his mother, Melaina Hovdebo, 33; Chris Gautreau, 41; and Gautreau’s two daughters, Alexia, 9, and Kiarra, 6, were all killed on impact.

Witnesses said Tschetter had been speeding along a Calgary highway for 20 kilometres before entering the city. They said his massive truck swerved, abruptly switched lanes and sometimes passed vehicles on the shoulder. It eventually slammed nearly at full speed into the car.

Court heard that Tschetter then got out of his truck and climbed a ladder to toss a vodka bottle into the back. Zachary’s aunt said sitting through another parole hearing was difficult, especially after hearing Tschetter deny that he was driving drunk that tragic night.

“I don’t think he gets it,” Tracey Grieder told Global Calgary. “I’m not sure he’s ever going to prepare himself for the real world.”

Tschetter issued an apology to the families at an earlier parole hearing last October.

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