An Edmonton lawyer has received a three-and-a-half-year sentence for his involvement in a deadly crash that killed a 16-year-old girl in 2018.
Shane Stevenson, 50, received his sentence Wednesday after pleading guilty to impaired driving causing death early last week. Stevenson was charged in relation to a collision in north Edmonton on April 15, 2018 that left Chloe Wiwchar dead.
The judge in the case accepted a joint sentencing submission from the Crown and defence of three-and-a-half years behind bars. Stevenson will also be prohibited from driving for five years after he is released.
Wiwchar was heading home from her boyfriend’s house the night of April 15, 2018 when she got off the bus and went to use a crosswalk at Kingsway and Tower Road. She was struck by a pickup truck that fled the scene. EMS responded to the scene and rushed Wiwchar to hospital where she was pronounced dead.
The truck was followed by an off-duty police officer who had stopped for Wiwchar to cross the road. Police arrested Stevenson, the driver of the truck, a short time later just north of 107 Avenue near 108 Street.
Court heard that Stevenson’s blood alcohol content was 0.17, nearly double the legal limit of 0.08.
Following the decision, Michael Wiwchar, Chloe’s father, said he was disappointed with the sentencing.
“If it was any one of their kids, it wouldn’t be the same sentence,” Michael said. “Three-and-a-half years doesn’t seem right. I know it wasn’t intent, and it wasn’t murder, but it’s still a loss of life. There’s no deterrent.
“Three-and-a-half years? That’s why everybody drinks and drives. No one cares.”
He said that the court should have taken into account that Stevenson was a lawyer who knew the laws. The family also wanted a longer sentence to serve as a deterrent against drunk driving.
“I wasn’t expecting a life sentence but five, six (years), so something positive would come of this. That precedent would have been set, and Chloe’s death wasn’t for nothing.”
Several victim impact statements were heard in court Wednesday, from family and friends of Wiwchar. Some of those reading their statement waited outside in the lobby because there were too many people in the courtroom as per COVID-19 protocols.
Members of the media were moved to the jury area in order to make room and distance people.
“I don’t want to exclude anyone from the courtroom, but we have health restrictions,” the judge said before the proceedings began.
Wiwchar’s mother, Holly Lucier, was the first person to read her victim impact statement.
“There are no words in the English language that even come close to describing the pain and anguish me and my family are forced to live with,” Lucier said. “Chloe’s death was 100 per cent preventable.
“She won’t get to be a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a graduate or even an adult,” she continued.
“Shane Stevenson hit her with his truck and then abandoned her there like a piece of garbage.
“I wish you could see the moments of destruction, the agony, the vacancy, the mental health issues, the sleepless nights, the despair, the financial devastation, the complete ruins of my life and the brokenness.”
Lucier said she hoped the sentence handed to Stevenson will be a deterrent to those who consider getting behind the wheel drunk.
“Impaired driving is not an accident. We all know impaired driving is dangerous,” she said.
Nearly all of the victim impact statements touched on how Stevenson not only struck Wiwchar, but left her on the road and drove away.
Court also heard about Stevenson’s driving record. The Crown called him “an irresponsible driver,” citing an alcohol-related roadside suspension in 2017.
The Crown also noted mitigating factors in the case, including that Stevenson plead guilty and has kept his sobriety. The Crown also noted Stevenson has been employed since the incident and does not have a prior criminal record. The Crown said if he remains sober, his prospects for rehabilitation are good.
Stevenson’s lawyer pointed out his client has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous, and lectures high school students about the dangers of drinking and driving.
The defence said Stevenson was let go from Dentons, the law firm at which he previously worked. He is no longer licensed to practice law but took a job working at a construction company, where the company says he is a good worker, according to the defence.
Stevenson addressed the court before his sentence was handed down.
“Today, I’d like to take full responsibility for causing the death of an innocent 16-year-old girl,” he said. “This is just a horrible situation and it was very preventable and I’m very sorry. I do have remorse for what I did.
“I can’t imagine what pain and suffering I put her family and loved ones through.”
Stevenson said he thinks of Wiwchar every day, adding being a father himself has kept him on the right track since the deadly collision.
“I’ve chosen to deal with this by staying sober and trying to be a better person one day at a time,” he said. “Chloe has helped me stay sober.
“I’m not going to hide from it. I did this. It’s a horrible thing.”
Stevenson has been out on bail since the collision.
With files from Sarah Ryan, Global News.