A man who was driving a stolen truck that crashed into a vehicle in western Saskatchewan last year, killing three Edmonton women, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday.
Brandon Stucka is also banned from driving for 10 years.
The widower of one of the victims said he felt relief when the sentence was handed out.
“It may not be what I desire, but at least we went through the due process,” said Glory Blamo, whose wife, Glorious David, died in the crash. Blamo is part of Edmonton’s Liberian community, many of whom made the over four-hour trip to Battleford for the sentencing hearing.
The Crown had originally sought a 12-year prison term and 20-year driving ban. Stucka’s lawyer was seeking a five- to six-year sentence and a 10- to 15-year driving ban.
Stucka, 27, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in May to three counts of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm. He sat still as Justice Gerald Allbright handed down his sentence.
Allbright told the court the gravity of Stucka’s offences is high because he had moral culpability; he pointed to the fact that Stucka was sober at the time of the crash, and he was making the decision to avoid liability. He called the incident a string of bad decisions, beginning with the break and enter that led to the crash. But Allbright did take Stucka’s remorse and early guilty plea into account, saying there are signs Stucka understands the consequences of his actions and there is hope he can be rehabilitated.
While court did hear of Stucka’s troubled past, one riddled with drug abuse and an unstable family environment during childhood, Allbright said those factors don’t diminish the tragedy or alleviate the impact on the community.
“This loss is both devastating and permanent,” Allbright told court.
Police chased Stucka on Sept. 22, 2017, after he stole the truck from a Wilton, Sask. business.
He was also wanted at the time for possession of property obtained by crime.
The pursuit ended 30 minutes before he crashed the stolen flat-deck truck head-on into a minivan while heading west in the eastbound lanes of Highway 16, just east of Lloydminster.
Eva Tumbay, 37, Jeannette Wright, 53, and Glorious David, 35, died in the crash. A fourth woman, Janet Wright Gaye, 32, was seriously injured. They were members of Edmonton’s Liberian community and were travelling to Minnesota to see friends and family.
Stucka didn’t have a valid driver’s licence, just a B.C. learner’s permit.
“I’m grateful she’s still alive, but she’s going through a lot of pain, both physically and emotionally,” said Matthew Gaye, Janet Wright’s husband. “I’m grateful she’s still alive and today we have come to closure.”
During tearful readings of victim impact statements, court heard how the three victims were pillars of Edmonton’s Liberian community, often helping to relocate and find employement for Liberians coming to Canada. They were also heavily involved in their church. Many in attendance who read their impact statements to the court told Stucka they forgive him for what he did, and hope he can forgive himself for what happened.
“I don’t know how we’re going to move forward, but we’re trying,” said Emmanuel Bracewell, Jeanette Wright’s son. “The community is strong, the pastor is strong and the people in the community are strong.”
Prior to learning his sentence, Stucka also took a moment to apologize to the friends and family of the victims. Addressing the gallery, he said he has had a lot of time to think about his actions.
“I’m so sorry for the inexcusable pain, for the lives I took,” he said.
With time served, Stucka has another eight years and 10 months to serve on his prison sentence.