Suddenly worsened weather had role in driving death, judge finds

A judge described a series of "sad and tragic" events in sentencing a former semi-truck driver for his role in a collision that cost another man his life.

On the night of Nov. 24, 2016, Robert Nicholas Boyko was already contending with poor weather as he headed east on Highway 16 from Prince George only to see it get even worse as he crested a hill. Instead of snow, he suddenly had to contend with "more of a sleet or slush which made the road very slippery,"

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B.C. Supreme Court Justice Cassandra Malfair said in her decision. Even though Boyko was already travelling 20 km/h below the posted 100 km/h speed limit, he attempted to further slow the rig. But his actions did not help.

"Any attempt he made to slow only caused either the tractor or the trailer to lose control and start sliding sideways," Malfair said. "When he got to the bottom of the hill he again tried to slow the vehicle and I accept he tried several different methods of trying to slow the vehicle without losing control of it. He was unsuccessful."

The rig jacknifed and collided with a pickup truck driven by Darren Price, who died at the scene.

Boyko subsequently turned in his class one licence and has not driven commercially ever since. He "suffers from nightmares and stress and trauma and continuously remembers or relives the accident in which he was simply just unable to bring his vehicle under control," it was also noted.

Malfair accepted a joint submisson from Crown and defence counsels and  fined Boyko $2,000 and prohibited him from driving for three months.

Price's family was in the courtroom at the time of sentencing, and Malfair acknowledged their loss.

"Of course, the death of Mr. Price is very troubling and tragic to this family, and when horrible accidents like this happen we all want to find somebody to blame, but in criminal court we do not really punish results," she said.

"We have to look at people's conduct and the badness of their behaviour, the evil of their intentions, the recklessness of their actions, the thoughtlessness of what they did. "In this case we have a horrible state of very bad winter roads, and Mr. Boyko admits he was going too fast for the conditions, but he was slowed down already, it came on very suddenly, and he tried and his efforts to slow kept getting met with losing control of his vehicle.

"That is what we have to punish him for today, and I am very, very sorry for your loss, but I do not think that the joint submission would bring the administration of justice into disrepute and it is not contrary to the public interest and I will accede to it."

The sentence was issued in July.

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