BRITISH COLUMBIA

Mom of woman killed in inexplicable B.C. crash says her life has changed forever

11/20/2014 04:43 EST | Updated 01/20/2015 05:59 EST
KAMLOOPS, B.C. - The mother of one of two people killed by a driver who crossed into the other lane on the Trans-Canada Highway near Spences Bridge says she is "utterly and completely shattered."

Tanya McGovern, 38, was sentenced to a one-year driving ban after pleading guilty Wednesday to a charge of driving without due care and attention.

Crown lawyer Chris Balison said no one can explain why McGovern's small SUV crossed into the northbound lane, colliding head-on with an oncoming car on Aug. 12, 2012.

Lindsay Brodie and Eric Lowerison, both in their 30s, died at the scene.

McGovern, who was removed from her vehicle with the jaws of life and flown to hospital, spent more than a month in hospital.

Brodie's mother, Kathie, made a victim-impact statement in provincial court in Kamloops, B.C., saying the family's lives are forever changed by the loss of a young couple who were planning to have children.

"Every get-together, birthday and celebration is marred because they're not there to share it with you," she said.

"On Aug. 12, 2012, my life changed forever, permanently and irrevocably."

McGovern said at the accident scene and in a later statement to police that she had no recollection of the crash or events preceding it.

Police accident reconstructionists determined her vehicle crossed into the other lane on a straight section of highway marked with a double-solid yellow line.

Data from both vehicles determined they were travelling considerably below the posted speed limit of 100 kilometres an hour, McGovern's at 83 km/h and the victims' at 59 km/h.

Defence lawyer Jeremy Jensen said McGovern was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was not tired behind the wheel.

She was driving alone behind a group of motorcyclists from Alberta on a tour of B.C.

Jensen said the group retired to sleep about 10 p.m. the night before.

There were no witnesses to the crash, which occurred between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

The sentence in similar cases typically calls for a fine of $1,000.

At issue in the lawyers' arguments was whether McGovern deserves a driving ban.

A charge of dangerous driving causing death was not an option after a Supreme Court of Canada decision originating from a crash near Chase, B.C., determined such driving must be a "marked departure" from the standard of other drivers.

Therefore, momentarily drifting into the other lane would not amount to a "marked departure."

In this case, Jensen argued no one can say whether McGovern took action to avoid an animal or if the other car drifted in her lane. The law states, however, that McGovern must provide a reason why her car was in the other lane.

Before making her decision, provincial court Judge Stella Frame said she "really struggles with the lack of consequences attached to these offences."

She noted McGovern's perfect driving record and obvious remorse, evidenced from openly weeping in court.

In the end, Frame sided with the Crown's request for a one-year ban against defence's call to leave any driving prohibition up to licensing authorities in Alberta.

"There's no explanation why she's driving on the other side of the road," Frame said. "She can't offer one."

As a result of her injuries, McGovern is on disability leave from her job as a water-plant operator. (Kamloops This Week)