Stop downplaying impaired driving

On Nov, 2, 2013, Jon Wood was in a cab, stopped at a red light in Red Deer, when a pickup truck bore down on it at a high rate of speed and rammed through the reinforced former police cruiser. All the other lanes were open, but the intoxicated driver was seemingly drawn to the brake lights of the taxi. Where Jon sat, alive just seconds before, ceased to exist. Jon never knew it was coming. Lights out, Jon.

On Nov, 2, 2013, Jon Wood was in a cab, stopped at a red light in Red Deer, when a pickup truck bore down on it at a high rate of speed and rammed through the reinforced former police cruiser. All the other lanes were open, but the intoxicated driver was seemingly drawn to the brake lights of the taxi. Where Jon sat, alive just seconds before, ceased to exist. Jon never knew it was coming. Lights out, Jon.

Fast forward to Dec. 3rd, 2014. The driver appeared in court for a scheduled two-day hearing with his defence lawyer. Before the hearing started, the defence offered the Crown a deal in which Jon’s killer will plead guilty to the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death, with alcohol as an aggravating factor, even though the former Crown prosecutor stated back in November 2013 that they had very strong evidence to prove impaired driving. The new Crown prosecutor stated he was inclined to accept this deal as it would warrant a similar jail term as the impaired driving causing death charge (that was his main goal) and although he asked for our input, he reiterated that it was entirely his decision.

Admittedly, we were emotionally exhausted and then ultimately resigned (we had no choice).

According to my research, the Crown is not doing what it should and it is letting down a larger collective who worked hard to gather and protect the evidence, as well as those who are fighting to have impaired driving causing death recognized for the serious and rampant crime it is.

Jonathon Wood will be an accident victim. Along with other plea deals, his death will not be attributed to an impaired driver, hence skewing the statistics. There are more and more drivers pleading down to this lesser charge and, simply put, they are not taking responsibility for their actions. How do you show remorse when you don’t even take responsibility for the crime? In Alberta within a 30-day period, there were three plea deals alone. Extrapolating, Alberta’s stats are quite likely 30 per cent higher than shown. So while politicians/lawmakers might congratulate themselves on whatever initiatives they feel contribute to this lower number, we must not fool ourselves.

Contrary to every other experience we have had with the justice system, the RCMP have respected Jon’s right for justice from the moment they were called to the crash site. The lead investigator even attended Jon’s viewing, paying his respects to Jon, to us. He was visibly shaken and I could feel his resolve. He was invested in the life of our good man Jon, even visiting his Facebook page. The entire Red Deer detachment showed respect, professionalism and, above all, humanity. I wake up at night knowing that our criminal justice system has let down the only people who truly acknowledged the value of my son’s life.

I am Jon Wood’s mother and I want Tyler Wilson to take responsibility for the crime of impaired driving causing death, for which he has been charged and for which we know he is guilty. The Crown’s acceptance of this plea deal is setting a dangerous precedent by allowing this to go forward in spite of having a very strong case. No punishment will ever fit this crime but we must hold offenders accountable otherwise, we are simply enabling them. Mothers of dead children are fighting for more meaningful penalties to wake up our communities and our justice system to the malaise towards these violent deaths, which are occurring at an alarming rate.

The sentencing hearing is today at 1 p.m. at the Red Deer Courthouse and it is open to the public. Learn more about Jon Wood at Facebook.com/celebratejon.

Lori Church

Calgary

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