Dangerous driving conviction causes ordeal for Clearwater family

Surviving a major collision with a semi-trailer has taught Clearwater resident Randy Roy the value of having a local hospital

Tina and Randy Roy sit with their 15-month-old daughter Anna. Missing from the photo is their five-year-old son Allister. The family is just getting over an eight-year ordeal as they fought a conviction for dangerous driving causing death all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Tina and Randy Roy sit with their 15-month-old daughter Anna. Missing from the photo is their five-year-old son Allister. The family is just getting over an eight-year ordeal as they fought a conviction for dangerous driving causing death all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Surviving a major collision with a semi-trailer has taught Clearwater resident Randy Roy the value of having a local hospital.

“A big thing to me is that the hospital here get its due credit,” he said. “It’s quite important that we keep our local emergency room service, because of the highway. Some people say we could do without it, but we can’t.”

Even though Roy still can’t remember the crash, which occurred nearly eight years ago, or its aftermath, he has no doubt that he would no longer be alive if it wasn’t for the preliminary treatment he received at Dr. Helmcken Memorial Hospital before being transported to Kamloops.

“All I remember is leaving the mill-site and then waking up in Kamloops. At first, I thought I was back home in New Brunswick,” he said.

As reported in the June 11 issue of the Times, the Supreme Court of Canada recently reversed Roy’s conviction on a charge of dangerous driving causing death.

He and his wife, Tina Roy, therefore feel more comfortable about discussing the incident; even though there are still civil lawsuits pending.

“We’re very grateful,” Tina Roy said. “When you look at that wreckage you wonder how he survived. The driver’s side is worse than the passenger side.”

Randy Roy’s passenger, Mark Harrington, was killed in the crash.

The two men were best friends and had known each other since they grew up together in New Brunswick.

On the day of the crash, the men had been setting up a small private sawmill on Harmon Road, which is an alternate route from Highway 5 to Vavenby.

At about 2:30 p.m. they finished and set out to drive the short distance to Roy’s home.

The insurance on Roy’s other vehicle had recently run out and so they were driving his motorhome back and forth to the worksite.

Harrington had been doing the driving. Due to his memory loss, Roy still has no idea why his friend didn’t take the wheel.

There was thick fog at the time. There was snow on the highway’s shoulders but none on the highway itself. Harmon Road was snow-covered and slippery.

The semi they collided with was heading east at the time of the crash. According to the semi’s driver, the motorhome apparently stopped at the junction with the highway, and then pulled out in front of him.

Harrington was pronounced dead at the scene. Roy was transported to hospital in Clearwater and then to Royal Inland in Kamloops.

The Roys’ home was not far from the crash and Tina Roy heard the sirens.

A friend called to tell her there had been a major collision but not to worry, because it had been a motorhome and a semi.

Tina said to the friend, “… but they were driving the motorhome today,” and she felt the need to pray.

Randy Roy spent about a month in hospital and got out two days before Christmas.

Several months later, police charged him and, with no memories of the events surrounding the crash, he was unable to defend himself.

The case went to trial in 2006 and he was found guilty on two charges.

Roy was given a one-year conditional sentence and lost his driver’s license for two years.

He appealed the dangerous driving conviction to the B.C. Court of Appeal, but the ruling was upheld.

His lawyer, Christopher Nowlin of Vancouver, appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. Nowlin, who Roy got through Legal Aid, traveled to Ottawa in November to argue the case.

On June 1, the Supreme Court justices set aside Roy’s dangerous driving conviction.

Dangerous driving causing death is a serious charge that can carry a penalty of up to 14 years in jail, they noted.

The justices said that the trial judge had erred by not asking whether Roy had displayed a marked departure from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person. They decided that there had simply been a single and momentary error in judgment.

 

The eight-year struggle has been an ordeal for all of the family, the Roys say. They are glad it is over and thank the community for its support.