Samuel Maendel pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death in connection to the crash near Brady Road that killed 19-year-old Ethan Boyer.
Maendel was given a $2,000 fine and a two-year driving ban, a sentence jointly recommended by the Crown and defence.
“I’m looking forward to moving on. This has been going on for two years. We’ve been waiting for this to happen, I’m glad it’s over,” Sue Zuk-Boyer, Ethan’s mother, told reporters outside court Wednesday.
“Our hearts will never be full, it will always have a break in it, (but) we’re just going to move on from this from today.”
In an agreed statement of facts, the court heard that Maendel, who was working and living in a Hutterite community, was driving a truck-trailer loaded with large rocks eastbound on the south Perimeter Highway just before 9 a.m. on Oct. 25, 2019.
Boyer was driving in the eastbound left lane ahead of Maendel, on his way to a morning class at the University of Manitoba.
The court heard that Boyer and another truck driver in front of him had slowed down due to a vehicle that was turning westbound onto the Perimeter Highway from Brady Road, partially blocking a lane ahead of them.
Maendel swerved into the right lane, where another truck was making a right turn onto Brady Road, before swerving back into the left lane, hitting Boyer’s vehicle from behind and crushing it between Maendel’s truck and the truck in front.
“It was not a survivable incident,” the Crown stated.
Road conditions were good that morning, Maendel had passed a breathalyzer test, and his cell phone records later showed there was no activity in his device during the time of the crash, said RCMP.
A collision reconstruction analyst estimated Maendel was going a minimum of 78 to 84 km/hour at the time of impact. The truck Maendel was driving was regulated to go no more than 106 km/hour.
A statement from a witness said he saw Maendel’s truck approaching in his rearview mirror and thought “he was driving like a dumbass.”
On Wednesday, Boyer’s mother Sue Zuk-Boyer, father Dana Boyer, and older brother Reid Boyer, sat in the front row of the courtroom, while Maendel sat with his head down. The court heard 18 victim impact statements from the family and friends of Boyer.
The family held photos of Ethan and his mother wore an Interlake Lightning hockey jersey with Boyer’s No. 9 on the back.
Many of the statements described Boyer’s kindness and quick wit, as well as his love for hockey, online games and animals. The statements also described the “overwhelming feeling of sadness,” saying the family is broken, and has felt pain, emptiness and deep sorrow since losing their son and brother. Some of the statements voiced fear for getting behind the wheel, and fear every time they’re at an intersection and look in the rearview mirror.
Many of the victim impact statements were read by the Crown on behalf of the family, but Ethan’s parents gave theirs in person.
While looking at Maendel, Dana Boyer said, “to this day, I have no words for Samuel. You killed a fine young man and destroyed a family with him,” Maendel sat with his head hanging down and wiping away tears.
Sue Zuk-Boyer recalled the morning Ethan left for university, and how frantic she became after hearing of an accident on the radio and hearing it involved a red Honda Accord. When she heard hockey sticks had been spotted in the back seat of the car, she knew it was him and drove to the scene.
“Ethan’s passing has done me in,” she said. “You don’t just lose someone once, you lose them over and over.”
Zuk-Boyer urged Maendel to donate to a scholarship in Ethan’s name, or support ‘Tin for the Critter Bin’ campaign, a pet food drive held in October in memory of Ethan.
Zuk-Boyer also said she wished the case had been taken to criminal court, rather than Highway Traffic Act court.
“We were really disappointed it went to HTA court and not criminal court,” she said. “And it wasn’t because we wanted the driver Samuel to go to jail. It’s because I believe that was the right court it should have been in.”
Maendel also addressed the court and apologized to the Boyer family.
“I’m sorry to the victim’s family,” he said. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it. I feel terrible. I’m so sorry.”
“I waited 782 days to hear ‘I’m sorry’,” Dana Boyer told reporters outside of court. “I meant a lot, it actually did. I was surprised at the relief that came from hearing him say that, it made a big difference.”
“I also appreciate him for standing up and taking responsibility, because nowadays not a lot of people do, and he did. And that actually made it easier to start forgiving, that’s what it meant.”