Sentencing delayed for man who crashed pickup through wall in Sylvan Lake

Sentencing has been adjourned until Thursday for a Three Hills man who admits to causing the crash that wrecked a utility building, broke a gas line and forced a brief evacuation in Sylvan Lake this year.

Sentencing has been adjourned until Thursday for a Three Hills man who admits to causing the crash that wrecked a utility building, broke a gas line and forced a brief evacuation in Sylvan Lake this year.

A portion of the town centre had to be evacuated at about 5 a.m. on March 22, when a pickup truck smashed through the cinderblock wall and came to rest inside the Telus building at the corner of 50th Avenue and 50th Street.

Later in the morning, police were contacted by a young man who said his truck had been stolen.

Tracks in the snow and bits of skin collected from inside the windshield on the passenger side of the truck told a different story, Judge David Plosz heard in Red Deer provincial court on Monday.

Police investigating claims that the truck was stolen found sufficient evidence to charge truck owner Thomas James Hanger, 22, with a series of offences, including dangerous driving causing bodily harm, public mischief, leaving the scene of a collision and driving without insurance.

Represented by Red Deer defence counsel Dana Carlson, Hanger pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of dangerous driving and to public mischief, and then the rest of the charges were withdrawn.

Crown prosecutor Rob Clark, based in Wetaskiwin, said Hanger confessed to the crash after police confronted him with evidence from the scene.

That evidence included footprints that matched the shoes he was wearing and biological evidence from the face of a friend who hit the windshield.

Investigators interviewed the injured man earlier and noted abrasions on his face consistent with the evidence from the truck, said Clark.

Reading an agreed statement of facts, he said Hanger and three friends were drinking before the crash and that Hanger was driving around town, deliberately fishtailing his truck. He spun out of control while northbound on 50th Street, said Clark.

A gas line outside the Telus building ruptured when the truck hit the wall, requiring an evacuation of the immediate area until crews were able to shut off supply lines.

Clark recommended a sentence of one year on probation plus a one-year driving suspension and restitution for damages to the Telus building, totalling $26,417.30.

Carlson did not dispute the recommendation, stating that his client is willing to make restitution but will need a considerable amount of time to come up with the money.

Plosz refused to pass sentence, however, because Hanger had not yet surrendered his operator’s licence and was not able to produce it in court on Monday.

Plosz adjourned the matter until Thursday, saying he would not pass sentence until the licence was surrendered in court.

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