EDMONTON — A man accused of injuring four people when he drove his pickup truck into an Edmonton gas bar has pleaded guilty to charges that include aggravated assault and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Steven Cloutier, who entered the plea Monday, had originally faced four counts of attempted murder.
In an agreed statement of facts presented in court, the 39-year-old man admitted to getting frustrated with a pump after he arrived at the north-end Petro-Canada gas station one morning in November of last year.
He told police he was "past the breaking point'' the day he drove his Ford F-150 through the building, severely injuring two of four employees.
He said his downward spiral began after his sister committed suicide.
Cloutier remains in custody and will return to court for a sentencing hearing on Nov. 28.
Court was told Cloutier left his driver's licence with the store clerk and went out to a pre-pay pump that didn't work. The clerk thought he had left a credit card and told another staff member to advise him over the intercom.
By this time, Cloutier had moved his truck to a different pump, but it also required pre-payment. After alerting Cloutier over the intercom, he became upset and went back into the store where he slammed his fist on the counter and yelled at the clerk before leaving without his licence.
Fearing for their safety, staff locked the front door and attempted to return the licence by sliding it through the after-hours payment slot. By that point, Cloutier had driven off but he returned about a minute later and sped into the building at an estimated 47 km/hr.
After the crash, Cloutier got out and punched a female worker in the face stating "How do you like that?''
He later watched from across the street as emergency crews arrived at the gas bar. Once in custody, he told an investigator that he should be in a mental hospital.
"There is a breaking point and everyone has it,'' he said. "Mine came a while ago and something just snapped in my mind and that's it.''
He said he was trying to leave Edmonton and hoped he didn't hurt any customers, although he noted that he no longer had a conscience.
"In my opinion, the staff members in the store deserved what they got,'' he told police.
Employee Yeon Kim was pinned underneath the truck while co-worker Joseph Loutitt was trapped between the vehicle and some steel rubble. They weren't freed until someone came into the store and slowly reversed the pickup.
Loutitt was visibly shaken during Monday's court proceedings and told reporters he just got out of a wheelchair in April. Loutitt suffered two broken legs, a broken knee cap and broken shoulder blade. He is now using a crutch to help him walk.
The two other employees are also still recovering from their injuries. (Global Edmonton)
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