Carrying the words that were synonymous with Jonathon David Wood, their family kept their heads up and their hearts strong as they heard the sentence for the man convicted of killing him.
Wood, 33, died in the early morning hours of Nov. 2, 2013 when the taxi he was in was hit by a truck driven by Tyler James Wilson, 19.
Wilson pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and a breach of a recognizance on Dec. 3, 2014. On Tuesday he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in custody by judge James Glass in Red Deer provincial court.
Glass also included a five-year driving prohibition in his decision which will start after Wilson’s period of incarceration ends. On the breach of a recognizance charge Glass added 15 days to the sentence.
“What would have been right was for Jon to have a say in this,” said Lori Church, Wood’s mother. “If he had a chance to see Tyler Wilson before this ever happened he may have had an impact on Wilson.
“Jon had that effect on people. He was genuinely invested and he did want to help people be better. The best thing I could hope for in this is for him to realize ‘I need to be better, I am at fault here and I need to be responsible for my actions.’”
Wood had been out at the bar with friends after competing in a local squash tournament and decided to take a taxi home. They were stopped at a red light in a northbound lane of 30th Avenue at 32nd Street.
Wilson had also been out drinking that night, bar hopping starting on Nov. 1 and finishing on Nov. 2, 2013 at Billy-Bobs in Red Deer. A friend had driven Wilson back to the friend’s house where the two slept it off at 2 a.m.
Wilson left the residence 3:30 a.m. He was northbound on 30th Avenue, travelling at speeds in excess of 100 km/h.
According to the collision analyst’s report, Wilson hit the stopped taxi at a speed of 107 km/h.
Wood was thrown into the front seat and his body came to rest on the dashboard. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
In reading her victim impact statement, Wood’s sister Kim Somerville-Keehn recalled a conversation she had with her 10-year-old child. The child asked Somerville-Keehn if “God would let me sacrifice myself to bring Jon back to everybody.”
Somerville-Keehn was joined by Wood’s brother, aunt and mother in reading their victim impact statements.
Church called Wood a beacon of positive energy, calling his death the most impactful moment in her life.
“He had so much more to do,” she said.
A total of 11 victim impact statements were submitted, four were read in court, six were read by the judge and one was deemed inadmissible.
The statements described Wood as a loving, compassionate brother, son, uncle, nephew and cousin. He organized memorable family vacations to Radium Hot Springs, B.C. and provided support for those he knew.
“He was the guy who pulled you through, not by dragging but through encouragement,” said Church in her victim impact statement.
Church said the family will remember Wood with the kindness and positivity that typified his personality. Church lost her oldest brother when he was 30. Wood was her first son.
Wilson wrote his own statement and read it before the judge made his decision. He said nothing he can say or do would make the situation better and that he lives with this everyday hanging on his conscience.
Speaking to Wood’s family he said “I hope you leave here today with some kind of closure.”
Church believes the impaired driving causing death charge should not have been withdrawn. It was withdrawn by the Crown when Wilson pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death.
While the impaired charge was not pursued, Crown Prosecutor Ed Ring made it clear that alcohol was an aggravating factor in the incident. Wilson’s friend said he didn’t want Wilson driving home after the bar as he was tired and had been drinking.
Defence counsel Lorne Goddard said the Crown would have had issues at trial with the impaired charge and may have even lost.
Goddard admitted that Wilson does have issues, but said he is a hardworking young man.
Ring had sought a 4.5 year custodial sentence and an eight year driving prohibition. Goddard instead asked for a two to two-and-a-half year sentence with a five year driving prohibition.
After taking into account 51 days of pre-trial custody credit, Wilson has slightly less than 29 months left to serve.
Members of Wilson’s family declined to comment after sentencing had concluded.