By Trevor Busch
A Lethbridge man responsible for a collision which claimed the lives of a father and son in late 2015 was sentenced to three years and 30 days of imprisonment Tuesday in Taber provincial court by Judge S.L. Oishi.
In addition to three years of incarceration, 58-year-old Roy Charles McCluskey was sentenced to a five-year driving prohibition in connection with the double highway fatality which occurred near Taber on Dec. 5. According to Crown prosecutor Michael Fox, on the date in question two westbound vehicles collided on Highway 3 about 15 kilometres east of Taber, when one of the vehicles attempted to make a left turn onto Range Road 152 and was struck from behind by McCluskey.
A 33-year-old man and five-year-old boy, both from Coaldale, were killed, while a three-year-old boy travelling in the same vehicle was airlifted to Calgary hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The female driver was also transported to hospital. A female passenger in McCluskey’s vehicle at the time of the collision also suffered multiple injuries.
Charges laid against McCluskey in connection with the collision and a subsequent incident, to which he pleaded guilty on Tuesday, included dangerous driving, two counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and two counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. A further charge of impaired driving was withdrawn by the Crown. McCluskey, who had no previous criminal record, had originally been scheduled to stand trial on the charges in November for which 10 days had been set aside, but changed his plea to guilty through agreement with the Crown.
In a more detailed accounting of the incident as part of an agreed statement of facts, Fox indicated that on the evening of Dec. 5, the accused, according to multiple witnesses, had been travelling at a high rate of speed and displaying a dangerous and erratic driving pattern before rear-ending the vehicle.
A full analysis of the scene and the evidence was conducted by Taber/Vauxhall RCMP, which concluded that speed had been a contributing factor in the collision, and that the vehicle had been struck without an application of brakes at a speed of 141 kilometres per hour. Then in a separate incident which occurred on Feb. 16, 2016, in Lethbridge, according to Fox on the afternoon of the date in question the accused had been observed by multiple witnesses displaying an erratic driving pattern on Mayor Magrath Drive South before turning onto 6th Avenue South and eventually colliding with a parked car.
Police on the scene later concluded McCluskey displayed signs consistent with intoxication, and a breathalyzer device test was demanded. The accused failed, registering a blood-alcohol reading of .20 milligrams. The accused was charged with various offences.
McCluskey, who was being held in custody prior to sentencing, was visibly emotional and displayed a degree of remorse for his crime when afforded a chance to address the court.
“I wish I could turn back time, your Honour, and I thank everyone for their accuracy,” said McCluskey.
Oishi also ordered McCluskey to pay a $900 victim-fine surcharge as part of his sentence.