Olsen gets day parole; family in disbelief

The family of Krista and Brad Howe are shocked that the drunk driver who killed the Red Deer couple and orphaned their five children will likely spend Christmas at home.

The family of Krista and Brad Howe are shocked that the drunk driver who killed the Red Deer couple and orphaned their five children will likely spend Christmas at home.

The Parole Board of Canada granted Chad Mitchell Olsen, of Sedalia, day parole where he will live in a halfway house to finish his sentence after a parole hearing at Bowden Institution on Friday morning.

“Likely, he’ll go home with Christmas with his family,” said Sandra Green, the mother of Krista Howe. “So he’ll never spend one Christmas without the family he loves. He has no idea what that is going to be like for us who will spend the rest of our Christmases without Brad and Krista.”

Brad and Krista Howe, ages 34 and 35 respectively, died on Feb.7, 2010 in Red Deer after their car was hit by a pickup truck driven by Olsen who had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood. Olsen was running a red light and travelling at a minimum of 85 km/h in a 60 km/h zone.

The Howes had three young children and were also guardians of two other children who are now between the ages of six and 16. The children are now being raised by Krista Howe’s sister, Karla, with help from Green and her husband, Ed, in Red Deer.

Olsen was serving a three and a half year prison sentence at the federal penitentiary after the Alberta Court of Appeal extended the original sentence of two year and three months by another 15 months. Olsen was under house arrest and served about 14 months of 24-hour house arrest while on bail until his sentencing.

“I felt the 27 months of the beginning of the sentence was a slap on the face,” said Green. “This was just another huge slap.”

Green and her family did not attend the parole hearing. She said they will contact the parole board to get some answers about why Olsen is returning to the community only after seven months of being jailed.

Green said he should not have been eligible for parole for at least 13 months because of the additional time tacked onto his sentence.

“It’s a very big shock,” said Green.

“Primarily because we just went through the appeal process. We are just dumbfounded of the whole process. Why even bother going through the appeal process and having it upheld if it doesn’t mean anything.”

Green understands Olsen will live in a group home, perhaps in Red Deer, have a job, and follow a curfew.

Green said Olsen wants to apologize to the family in person for his “mistake.”

“It wasn’t a mistake,” contends Green. “It was a choice. He has got that wrong . . . I would certainly entertain what he has to say or if he would simply accept the responsibility because there is no way to justify it . . . His mistake was not recognizing he was a dangerous driver with having 15 provincial driving infractions and not paying heed to that.”

A Red Deer judge initially handed out a two year and three month sentence after Olsen pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death in November 2010.

The original sentence caused public outrage including numerous letters to the editor calling for a stiffer sentence which sparked an appeal process at the Alberta Court of Appeal.

In October, three Alberta Court of Appeal judges extended Olsen’s stay at the federal prison.

The court of appeal ruled the original sentence was not long enough because it did not take into account Olsen’s lengthy record of traffic convictions. As well, the judges said Olsen should not have been given credit for bail conditions that were not all that onerous.

He had nine previous speeding convictions and seven other traffic violations which earned him three separate driving suspensions. Olsen’s driver’s licence was suspended for five years.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate