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Speeding driver who fatally struck cyclist in King, Ont., hit-and-run sentenced to 2 years in prison

Click to play video: 'A 22-year-old man who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of a cyclist and failing to remain at the scene is facing a prison sentence' A 22-year-old man who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of a cyclist and failing to remain at the scene is facing a prison sentence
WATCH ABOVE: (March 8) As Catherine McDonald reports, the family of Daniel Bertini is struggling to forgive the young, uninsured driver who was speeding and fleeing police at the time of the crash – Mar 8, 2022

A speeding driver who fatally struck a 54-year-old cyclist in King, Ont., and then left the scene has been sentenced to two years in prison and a five-year driving ban.

Justice David Rose released the sentencing decision Tuesday for Drak Paul, who previously pled guilty to dangerous driving causing death and failure to remain causing death, in the July 24, 2020, crash that killed Daniel Bertini.

According to a statement of facts, Paul was driving to work in his Honda Accord on a rural stretch of Keele Street where the posted speed limit was 60 km/h.

A York police officer clocked Paul as travelling 125 km/h and the officer began a pursuit with emergency lights activated.

Read more: Family of avid cyclist killed in King, Ont. hit-and-run calls driver a ‘coward’

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Paul’s vehicle sped up and the officer decided to call off the chase because the speeds were too fast.

As Paul continued, he approached speeds estimated around 130 to 140 km/h. A witness saw Paul pass another vehicle and nearly strike the witness going in the other direction.

Just north of Cavell Avenue, the rear passenger tire of the vehicle went onto the gravel shoulder. Paul lost control and struck Bertini who was riding his bike northbound.

The vehicle left the roadway, went up an embankment and went airborne for 28 metres.

Paul fled the scene on foot and was arrested while walking 2.7 km from the crash.

Bertini died at the scene.

Read more: Male cyclist killed in King collision identified by York Regional Police

A collision reconstructionist determined that the vehicle was travelling at least 111 km/h before Paul lost control.

Last week, family gave their victim impact statements.

Bertini’s widow, Rosy Bertini Cece, told Justice Rose that she turned on the TV and heard on the news that police were asking for the public’s help to identify someone who was hit on their bike in King Township.

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Bertini Cece said she called York Regional Police and later learned the cyclist was her 54-year-old husband.

“My husband was simply doing what he loved to do for the past 30 years as a cyclist. After hitting my husband so violently, the offender left him in a ditch like an animal, then pathetically ran away. How do I forgive? I continue to pray for guidance on this,” Bertini Cece said.

In delivering the sentence Tuesday, Rose said there were several aggravating factors including the manner in which Paul was driving, the fact that his car was uninsured since 2018, and that he didn’t stop for the police.

Click to play video: 'Ontario’s police watchdog probing role York officers played in fatal crash involving cyclist' Ontario’s police watchdog probing role York officers played in fatal crash involving cyclist
Ontario’s police watchdog probing role York officers played in fatal crash involving cyclist – Jul 24, 2020

“Had he stopped to answer the police car in pursuit there is no reason to believe that we would be here today,” Rose wrote.

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“He would have been issued common traffic tickets — for which there is no moral stigma. He chose to continue.”

The fact that Paul fled the scene is also aggravating, the justice said, and noted that first responders didn’t initially know if Bertini was the driver.

“On the facts before me, he would have continued his attempts to evade the police were he not arrested,” Rose said.

Mitigating factors included the guilty plea, the fact that he has no criminal record (only a minor traffic offence), and that he is “gainfully employed and his employer speaks positively of him,” Rose said.

“There are very good prospects for rehabilitation,” Rose added

Paul has expressed remorse for the incident.

Read more: Ontario’s police watchdog investigating King City crash that left cyclist dead

A pre-sentence report for Paul said that he had a difficult upbringing and suffered from neglect.

Paul, 22, was sentenced to 18 months for the charge of dangerous driving causing death and six months consecutive for fail to remain causing death.

“I have come to the conclusion that this could have easily have attracted a higher sentence, towards the 2.5 years the Crown was seeking,” Rose said.

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“It is his prospects for rehabilitation that prevent a longer sentence. But I also find that nothing less than two years will adequately address the many serious aggravating factors present.”

Paul has been on a term of release since the day of the crash that included a driving ban.

He was also handed a five-year driving ban Tuesday.

Paul was also ordered to supply a DNA sample for the national DNA databank.

— with files from Catherine McDonald

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