A 22-year-old Toronto man charged with impaired driving causing the death of a York University Glendon Campus scholarship winner last summer has pleaded guilty to criminal negligence causing death.
Seyed Yashar Tolouei stood up in a Newmarket courtroom on Wednesday and admitted his guilt 11 months after being involved in a fatal collision that claimed the life of 21-year-old Julia Baciu. The collision happened just blocks from her Richmond Hill home.
The plea comes just a month after a three-day preliminary hearing in June.
Tolouei was driving his Toyota Camry southbound on Bayview Avenue, north of Elgin Mills Road, on Aug. 18 at around 9:30 p.m. when the Camry collided with the Chevrolet Cruz Baciu was a passenger in. Baciu was pronounced dead at the scene. Baciu’s boyfriend, who driving the Cruz, was also seriously injured as was Tolouei’s girlfriend, who was a passenger in Tolouei’s car.
At the time of the fatal collision, York Regional Police Const. Andy Pattenden said, “One of the cars nearly split in half as a result of the crash. Speed was definitely a factor, but the major factor involved here (was) alcohol.”
Tolouei was arrested at the scene and charged impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death, and refusing to provide a breath sample. He was also treated in hospital for minor injuries.
In all, Tolouei faced 12 charges. After being released on bail the day after the fatal collision, he returned to the scene of the fatal crash where he told Global News on camera that he refused a breath sample because he had nothing to prove. Tolouei also denied being drunk.
“I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I was a straight-A student. My life was on track. I hurt somebody. It wasn’t even my fault,” he said.
Tolouei’s lawyer Brian Brody told Global News the other 11 counts are still before the courts, and Tolouei’s case has been adjourned until sentencing which is scheduled for late August. Global News learned it’s expected those charges will be stayed by the Crown on the date of the sentencing hearing.
Julia Baciu’s mother, Irina Baciu, who was in court for the guilty plea said she is happy that the family does not have to go through a lengthy and painful trial. Irina is now preparing to deliver a victim impact statement and says the last 11 months have been devoid of happiness.
“It’s a nightmare. When your child dies, a part of you dies with her. We’re not the same people as before,” Irina said.
The crown attorney suggested to Justice David S. Rose that a six-year custodial sentence would be appropriate while the defence suggested five years.
Julia was an awarded an entrance scholarship to York University Glendon campus and was on course to complete a Bachelor of Arts combined with an Education Degree, majoring in French and Spanish. She could speak five languages and was hoping to become a French teacher. Her family has now set up a memorial scholarship in Julia’s name, which will disburse $1,000 each year to help pay for one Glendon campus language student’s tuition.
If they can raise $25,000 by Dec. 31, 2019, the scholarship will continue in perpetuity. If you would like to donate, click here.