Sentencing started Tuesday for the man who killed three Carrot River teens in a construction zone in 2015.
Normand Mark Joseph Lavoie, now 41, claimed he was on “auto pilot” when the teens were killed. Lavoie’s semi rear-ended a stopped car in a construction zone that caused a chain-reaction crash, killing Justin Gaja, 14, Kristian Skalicky, 15, and Carter Stevenson, 17 who were on their way home from football camp.
His semi pushed their car into another vehicle, which also struck and severely injured 21-year-old flag operator Samuel Fetherston.
Lavoie, originally from Winnipeg, was set to stand trial in June, but entered a guilty plea to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm in May.
Gaja’s mother was among those who read victim impact statements Tuesday at Melfort’s Court of Queens Bench.
“The day I now look forward to, is the day I take my last breath on earth,” she said.
In the agreed statement of facts, the court heard from Lavoie what happened prior to the collision. He stated that “with it being Saskatchewan, it’s flat and (you) kind of just go into auto pilot,” adding he didn’t recall seeing the six signs showing he was about to enter the construction zone.
Lavoie said he was alerted by his dog, but stated this didn’t snap him out of anything. He said he “looked back quickly [at the dog] and then I turned back and there’s the back end of the car.”
Lavoie later took part in a sleep analysis and was diagnosed with mild sleep apnea. In the agreed statement of facts, when asked if he was sleeping when the incident occurred , Lavoie replied “no,” but later admitted to being tired.
His defence lawyer, Mike Nolan, said there was no way to establish whether or not Lavoie fell asleep at the wheel, but his client takes responsibility for his actions.
“I understand that I did something wrong,” Lavoie told the court. He added how he contemplated taking his own life over the matter and was “prepared for what is to come.”
The court also learned Lavoie lost his mother and grandmother to a truck driving incident was he was young. This motivated him to become a truck driver so what happened to him would never happen to another family. To this he said he had “failed catastrophically.”
The crown argued for a six-year prison sentence Tuesday morning, along with a nine-year driving ban for Lavoie. They said the truck driver was “reckless” in a clearly-signed construction zone, leading to the deaths.
The defence countered with a suggestion of 16 to 25 months behind bars, saying Lavoie’s guilty plea spared the victims’ families the stress of a trial.
The sentencing decision was adjourned until Sept. 11 in Melfort.
— With files from Tyler Marr, paNOW.com.