A Killarney man who drove his all-terrain vehicle at a high rate of speed in the dark with no headlights on, went through an intersection where he collided with a motor vehicle, was knocked unconscious and then drove off when he came to has been given a suspended sentence and one-year licence suspension.
It could have been worse for Kurtis Tyson: he could have been looking at an impaired driving charge had he remained at the scene as witnesses noticed he appeared to be intoxicated.
Tyson, since the collision and being charged with dangerous driving and failing to remain at the scene of an accident, as well as two Highway Traffic Act offences, did take alcohol counselling and saw a psychologist.
“I’m sorry,” Tyson, 49, told Ontario Court Justice John Keast on Wednesday. “I did that (counselling and treatment) on my own.”
“You did a lot of work here on the issues,” said the judge. “You appear to have a recognition it’s not just a drinking problem, but a serious underlying anxiety and depression problem which appears to be hereditary … The reason you are drinking is to hide the emotional pain. This is your way of concealing it.”
Keast also told Tyson the Aug. 3 collision could have been much worse.
“You could have killed yourself,” said the judge. “Fortunately, nobody else was hurt.”
Along with the suspended sentence and licence suspension, Keast also issued a one-year probation order that includes making a $500 donation to Crime Stoppers and a no-alcohol provision.
The court heard Tyson was driving an ATV on St. Paul Street in the Municipality of Killarney the night of June 23 without the headlights on and at a high rate of speed. He did not stop at a stop sign at the intersection of St. Charles Street and collided with a motor vehicle.
Tyson, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from his ATV onto the vehicle and rolled off it onto the road, his helmet coming off.
Tyson was unconscious for several minutes. In the meantime, the occupants of the vehicle called 911.
Tyson then regained consciousness and put his helmet back on. When told to remain at the scene, Tyson said he was fine and drove away on his ATV. The occupants of the other vehicle noticed Tyson appeared to be intoxicated.
It was determined Tyson was the driver of the ATV and not long after, police went to his residence. Tyson was not there.
Two days later, he was located and charged.
On Wednesday, Tyson pleaded guilty to his dangerous driving and failing to remain at the scene of an accident charges.
Tyson had a prior record, including two impaired driving convictions.
The Crown and defence lawyer Jacob Gauthier suggested the penalties. The $500 donation Keast ordered was initially suggested as a fine.
The lawyer said that had the case gone to trial, there were some triable issues.
“The pleas from Mr. Tyson do go a long way in resolving this matter,” said Gauthier. “It’s an acceptance of responsibility on his part. It’s fortunate no one else was injured. He could have suffered serious injuries as a result. It was a significant error in judgment, which he is now accepting responsibility for.”
Gauthier said Tyson, who works as a guide in the Killarney area, took significant steps since the incident including getting alcohol counselling and also seeing a psychologist for anxiety and depression. As well, Gauthier provided the court with several character reference letters.
“He is on a course to sobriety and he is going to maintain that course,” said the lawyer. “If Mr. Tyson didn’t provide the letters, didn’t seek the programs he is doing, the Crown would be in a different (sentencing) position.”
Assistant Crown attorney Catherine Hansuld said Tyson is fortunate.
“Mr. Tyson was not only driving at night and without headlights, but also at a high rate of speed,” she said. “It is also concerning Mr. Tyson was under the influence of alcohol at the time. He is lucky there were no serious injuries.”
Hansuld said that with two prior impaired driving convictions, Tyson could have been looking at a far worse penalty.
“But, he completed counselling for alcohol abuse prior to sentencing and he has decided to take responsibility for his actions,” she said.