Arizona man charged with 4 counts of manslaughter in crash that killed Calgary couple
The Arizona man behind the wheel of a car involved in a crash that killed a vacationing Calgary couple is awaiting extradition back to Arizona after being charged in the “reckless” deaths of four pedestrians.
According to the Maricopa Sheriff’s office, 27-year-old Alex Bashaw was using his cellphone within seconds of striking Patti Lou and Ron Doornbos as they walked on a sidewalk in Fountain Hills, Arizona on March 13.
Police said he was speeding — driving a minimum of 53 mph in an area with a 35 mph speed limit — in the curb lane of Saguaro Boulevard when he missed a turn and crossed a bike lane. He then struck the cement curb, making his way onto the sidewalk where the Doornbos’ were hit.
It’s believed he was travelling about 40 to 43 mph (65 to 69 km/h) at the time he hit the couple.
Patti Lou died on the scene and Ron was medically evacuated to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary where he died in June.
After striking the Calgary couple, the vehicle got back on the road, blew through a red light and struck Karen and Robert Bonta, an Iowa couple who were legally walking in the crosswalk, police said. They were both killed.
“I feel like we have some closure. It’s just a process,” Patti Lou’s sister, Terri Dutka, told Global News. “I don’t even talk about them in the past tense I still talk about them in the current tense.”
She said hearing the news of the charges was “bittersweet.”
“I was happy and sad at the same time,” she said. “I can’t help but feel bad for their families and the other people‘s families and all the loss.”
Dutka said that after hearing all the details of how her sister and brother-in-law were killed, she believes the charges are justified.
“It was more than just looking at your phone,” she said. “When you watch the news report, you can see how distracted he was, how fast he was going, and the speed he was going when he hit them — there were no brakes involved.”
She added she feels anger and frustration at the disregard the driver seemed to have for others on the road that day.
“I just want to slap him,” she said. “If that was my son, I can’t imagine the outrage that I would feel. The stupidity. How self-absorbed.
I can’t imagine anything in my life being that important that I would be distracted for that long.”
Family to write victim impact statement, attend trial
Bashaw reported to police he had looked down while driving but didn’t know why he left the road. He told investigators he tried to steer the vehicle to the left once he hit the curb and saw people on the sidewalk. He said he saw his vehicle hit both couples, and that once the vehicle stopped nearly two dozen feet away, he jumped out and performed CPR on two of the injured pedestrians.
Police said Bashaw was not impaired, despite having a history of drug use. He told police he wasn’t speeding and that his phone had been in a cradle in his car, and that he could use it in hands-free mode.
Data obtained from Bashaw’s cellphone obtained through a warrant showed he received a call at 9:11:46 a.m. which lasted 55 seconds — ending at 9:12:41 a.m. Security footage from a business close to the crashes showed the Doornbos’ were struck at approximately 9:12:45 a.m.
“It is the belief of the investigators that Alex Bashaw’s driving behaviour was reckless,” the Maricopa Sheriff’s office said in an email.
Bashaw broke five Arizona traffic laws and was charged with four counts of manslaughter in the deaths of the two couples. Considering he moved to Ohio after the collision, he is now awaiting extradition back to Maricopa County. His bond was set at $750,000.
Watch from March 2018: A Calgary family is mourning the death of a sister whose husband remained in a coma following Arizona crash
Dutka told Global News someone from the family would be writing a victim impact statement and likely would attend the trial.
“We didn’t just lose our sister and brother-in-law but also Lou was our business partner and we lost a huge part of that,” she said.
“It could’ve been avoided if he had been responsible and that’s the part that really makes me mad.”
WATCH: NBC 12 News in Phoenix, Arizona reporting on the fatal collision in Fountain Hills
— With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.