Local man convicted for deadly drive in Kelowna

A Prince George man was convicted by a Kelowna judge Monday of dangerous driving causing death.

Travis Ryan Hennessy was also convicted of two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The charges stemmed from a June 2018 crash in Rutland. Provincial Crown counsel spokesman Dan McLaughlin confirmed the convictions in an email to The Daily Courier. A date for Hennessy’s sentencing will be set Tuesday, McLoughlin said.

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The maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing death is 14 years’ imprisonment.

When Hennessy took the stand in his own defence in early December, he denied being at the wheel at the time of the high-speed crash. He said he’d been in the backseat.

“I was in and out of consciousness, chillin' in the backseat,” Hennessy testified, under examination from Donna Turko, his defence lawyer.

But Crown counsel J.B. Deschamps presented forensic evidence showing Hennessy had been driving. A woman who’d been in the car also testified that Hennessy was driving. Hennessy, who has a lengthy criminal record, admitted to a day of heavy drug use preceding the fatal crash.

He testified he had driven to Kelowna from Prince George, then to Vernon and back, smoking crystal meth much of the time.

After leaving a Rutland party, Hennessy said he and three other people got in a car, intending to buy more drugs. Hennessy said he was driving at first, but then claimed he’d relinquished the wheel because he didn’t know Kelowna streets very well.

An RCMP officer saw the car Hennessy was driving speeding and swerving down Highway 33. The officer did a u-turn, and activated the cruiser's emergency lights and siren.

But the pursuit, in which the officer's vehicle reached a speed of 146 km/h, was brief. Hennessy lost control of the car and it crashed into a concrete fence near Gerstmar Road.

One of the people inside the car was killed and the three others, including Hennessy, were hospitalized.

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