Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for November 6, 2012

Rollover left young woman paralyzed

A man convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm will know Friday if that conviction will stand.

By Stephanie Waddell on November 6, 2012 at 3:27 pm

A man convicted of impaired driving causing bodily harm will know Friday if that conviction will stand.

The Yukon Court of Appeal is sitting this week in Whitehorse.

On Monday, the court heard from lawyer Kim Hawkins, who argued for the acquittal of Michael Schmidt.

If the court doesn’t acquit the convicted man, it should at least order a new trial, Hawkins told justices Harvey Groberman, Christopher Hinkson and David Harris, who are the sitting judges for the court of appeal.

Schmidt was sentenced to eight months in jail on the two impaired driving causing bodily harm charges, but is out on bail pending appeal.

The case dates back to Dec. 14, 2009, when Schmidt was driving from Whitehorse to Haines Junction with Jessica Frotten and Michael Sanderson.

Schmidt’s Honda car rolled on the Alaska Highway near the Takhini River Bridge.

Frotten and Sanderson were ejected from the vehicle with Frotten rendered paralyzed after breaking her back. She also suffered a torn aorta, broken feet, punctured lungs, several broken ribs and a concussion.

Sanderson broke his right shoulder, left leg, multiple ribs and tore ligaments in his left knee.

Schmidt was found guilty of two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm,.

He was acquitted of two counts of dangerous driving and another two counts of driving with a blood alcohol count of 0.08.

At Monday’s hearing, Hawkins noted an RCMP officer who testified at the trial only noted two symptoms of impairment at the scene of the accident. She offered possible explanations for each.

The smell of alcohol was the first, and, as she pointed out, that doesn’t give any indication of the level of impairment.

During the trial, Schmidt admitted to having consumed beer at lunch, and noted there had been unopened beer in the car which exploded when the vehicle rolled, covering him in the alcohol.

The other indication of impaired driving, Hawkins noted, was Schmidt’s eyes appearing glassy.

As the lawyer pointed out though, in this circumstance an airbag had deployed in Schmidt’s face, and he had been crying, which could have caused his eyes to look glassy.

Even the officer, Hawkins added, conceded at trial the glassy appearance of Schmidt’s eyes may not have been the result of alcohol ingestion.

Throughout her arguments, Hawkins provided the court with case law.

Crown prosecutor Eric Marcoux, meanwhile, argued there was enough evidence provided at the trial for the conviction. He also cited case law for his own arguments.

Marcoux argued photos of the highway show there was nothing there to cause a rollover.

Hawkins, however, argued there was indeed evidence of frost heaves and an icy patch just before the car went off the road.

The three justices are set to deliver an oral judgment on the case Friday morning.

CommentsAdd a comment

flyingfur

Nov 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Nearly 3 years later and this guy STILL can’t take any responsibility for his part in this accident.  He should get ADDITIONAL time in jail above and beyond what he should have served already for wasting the court’s time and the taxpayers’ money.  Enough already!  It was a travesty that he was allowed out of jail after serving a small portion of the time that he was sentenced to so that he could work on his appeal.

June Jackson

Nov 6, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Personally..I think Schmidt is nothing but a blot on mankind for trying to weasel out of all responsibility for this tragedy.
You were driving.. it was your responsibility to make sure everyone had seatbelts on.. how safe was your driving anyway with a rollover?

Karma doesn’t forget.

Really?

Nov 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm

it’s not the drivers responsibility for passengers to wear a seat belt. It’s a personal choice to wear it or not.

Cathy

Nov 7, 2012 at 6:37 pm

wearing seatbelts is not a personal choice, it is the law.  I could be wrong but I do believe that it is the legal responsibility to ensure that passengers are wearing the seatbelts but again I could be wrong.

Sam

Nov 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Personally I like the impaired driving conviction even though Schmidt was below the legal limit. To me this means you can be convicted for drinking anywhere near the legal limit so the message is no drinking and driving.

Another message is always have your seat belt fastened and to not get in a car with someone who drinks and drives.

RCMP- More checkstops please- morning and night- its still really bad for drinking and driving here. And start checking people on the ATV trails- they have been using them to avoid road checkstops for years.

Jackie Ward

Nov 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm

According to “really?‘s” thinking the driver shouldn’t be charged with anything. The driver is responsible for their passengers, period. It’s funny a few years ago I got a ticket for my passenger not wearing their seatbelt. Funny eh? It can go both ways. The cop can ticket the passenger or the driver. Go do some research please before commenting.

Yes Really

Nov 8, 2012 at 12:08 pm

@Really, yes it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure all passengers are secured. That’s why if you are caught driving with someone not wearing their seatbelt, the driver gets the ticket.

It’s not a personal choice to wear a seatbelt, it’s a law.

flyingfur

Nov 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Really:  Really?  Not sure what you mean by responsibility…but nobody rides in my vehicle without a belt on whether that is the letter of the law or not.  And it is not a personal choice; you might want to do some reading on that before you make such a ridiculous and misinformed comment.

PFP

Nov 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Just gunna throw this out there in the yukon driver handbook :)

Seatbelts
There are two good reasons to wear your seatbelt:
• Wearing your seatbelt significantly reduces your chance of serious injury or death in a crash.
• It’s the law in Yukon — you will be fined for not wearing your seatbelt.
It’s also your responsibility as a driver to make sure that all passengers are properly secured with seatbelts or child restraint systems.

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