Drunken crash into arena nets $42,000 in fines, restitution

A Kamloops man who crashed a pickup truck into the side of Rolling Mix Arena while drunk will be paying slightly more than $42,000 in damages and penalties.

Of that total, Wyatt Stralak, 23, will have three years to pay $38,983.11 in restitution, with $10,000 of that total going to the city to cover the deductible and the rest to the insurer.

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He was also ordered to pay a further $3,175 in fines and victim surcharges within a year and was issued a one-year driving prohibition for the Aug. 31, 2017 incident.

Crown prosecution had also been seeking a 30-day jail sentence or a community sentencing order, but provincial court judge George Leven decided otherwise, noting in part that he quickly took steps to confront his problem with alcohol.

During submissions on sentencing, Stralak's lawyer, Richard Hendery, said his client signed up for treatment the day after the incident, subsequently spent six months at Baldy Hughes and has not had a drink since he was arrested.

And while Stralak denied responsibility when first confronted by police, he pleaded guilty to counts of driving with a blood-alcohol level over .08 under the Criminal Code and driving while prohibited under the Motor Vehicle Act at the first opportunity.

It was determined that Stralak's blood-alcohol level ranged between .228 and .255 when, at about 1 a.m. on the morning in question, he missed the slight bend while heading northeast on Patricia Boulevard and drove across the lawn and into the arena's southwest wall.

Stralak had been driving a pickup truck owned by a friend of his brother in law at the time. ICBC did not believe the story at first but Stralak confirmed his role with the insurer.

Within about two months, public art made out of granite and steel had been put in place on the lawn Stralak had driven across. However, city spokesman Mike Kellet said Thursday the decision to put the sculptures there had been decided well before the crash had occurred.

Stralak works for a playground equipment manufacturer and is valued enough to currently be working on a project in Quebec City. His employer also paid for his flight back to Prince George for the sentencing, the court was told.

However, the convictions will likely prevent him from working on projects in the United States, which he has in the past.

Prior to sentencing, Stralak said he was "deeply sorry" for his actions and has since turned his life around.

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