Daughter of woman killed in Gardiner crash: ‘I don’t understand the recklessness of it’

Click to play video: 'Man who admitted to dangerous driving on Gardiner leading to deadly crash facing prison'
Man who admitted to dangerous driving on Gardiner leading to deadly crash facing prison
WATCH: Man who admitted to dangerous driving on Gardiner leading to deadly crash facing prison – May 7, 2024

Norma Buendia’s daughter never thought her mother would die at the age of 58, until October 3, 2021, when she got a call from her younger brother saying that their mom had been killed. In a victim impact statement read out in Superior Court Tuesday at the sentencing hearing for Kalyan Trivedi, Natalia Gonzales said that was the worst day of her life.

“I didn’t and still don’t understand why this had to happen. I don’t understand the recklessness of it all or why my mom had to be the one to pass away like she did. She was a really good person to everyone. Caring, loving and always others above herself,” Gonzales said through tears.

Trivedi, a 33-year-old Toronto man pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing Buendia’s death, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm to Buendia’s husband in March.

According to an agreed statement of facts, it was 1:30 am on October 3, 2021, when Buendia and her husband Roberto Navarro Vega, who lived in Mississauga, were heading to downtown Toronto. They were going to pick up their son from his friend’s house when an Audi R8 travelling at high speed, rear-ended their vehicle in the eastbound lanes of the Gardiner Expressway near Islington Ave.

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The back of their car was crushed. The impact caused the Nissan to accelerate forward and both vehicles began to spin out. As they rotated and continued travelling eastbound along the Gardiner, the two vehicles came back together and collided for a second time. Police were not able to determine the speed of the Audi at the initial point of impact but were able to determine that the speed of the Audi following the second impact  was 122 km/hr.

The Buendia’s vehicle was thrust outward and collided with the concrete barrier separating eastbound and westbound lanes before ultimately rolling onto its roof. Buendia was extricated from the vehicle and rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Vega was also rushed to hospital where he spent two months recovering from a fracture to his pelvis and injuries to his back and knees.

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According to the facts, following the collision, Trivedi and his passenger were able to exit their vehicle. After about 12-15 minutes at the scene, Trivedi left the scene and at no time, did he identify himself as the driver of the Audi to any police officers or emergency personnel. He turned himself in to police on October 21, 2021, 18 days after the collision.

Buendia’s son Roberto Carlos Navarro said in his victim impact statement that his mother was hard-working, inspiring, loving and kind, saying “there are not enough words to describe the pain and loss I have felt.”

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Vega, who now walks with a cane, said he feels empty and lonely since Buendia’s death.

Assistant Crown attorney Michael Wilson called Trivedi’s manner of driving particularly egregious. “At one point, he was estimated by various witnesses to be travelling at 150 to 200 km/hr.” Wilson said that Trivedi was driving in a highly aggressive manner, flashing his high beams at other drivers and weaving in and out of traffic on two major highways in our city, in the rain. “He drove his vehicle at high speeds for some distance across two highways,” said Wilson who played a video compilation taken from Ministry of Transport highway cameras showing the white Audi R8 speeding down the road.

Wilson, who is asking for a sentencing of five to five-and-a-half years for the count of dangerous driving causing death to be served concurrently with a three year sentence for dangerous driving causing bodily harm along with a ten year driving prohibition, said Trivedi’s “atrocious” driving record is an aggravating factor. The 33-year-old had 11 driving convictions for speeding prior to the deadly collision. “This collision was inevitable. It was simply a matter of time and a matter of when,” said Wilson. “For over a decade, he has operated a vehicle with blantant disregard of the rules and the safety of others.”

Defence lawyer Ravin Pillay suggested an appropriate sentence would be three years in prison and a five-year driving ban pointing out his client has already been prohibited from driving for two-and-a-half years since being released on bail.

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Madam Justice Anne Molloy is expected deliver her sentence in July.

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