A Loyalist Township man has been sentenced to serve five years in a penitentiary for his role in a fatal head-on collision that killed 44-year-old Shawn Way in Prince Edward County in 2015.
Ronald Scott, 34, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death in Picton Superior Court on Friday. An earlier guilty plea was stricken from the court as it was submitted to the now retired Justice Richard Byers. During final submissions Hastings County Assistant Crown Attorney Paul Layefsky and defence lawyer Clyde Smith disagreed on sentencing requests. Layefsky requested a four to six year term while Smith requested three to four years.
Court heard how during the early morning hours on September 6, Scott a now former Milhaven correctional officer and Loyalist Township volunteer firefighter left a bonfire party where he had been drinking heavily. He was travelling at 100 kilometres an hour heading south on Highway 62 near Oram Road when his vehicle veered into the centre lane and collided with Way’s northbound car. Way, an Alliston area man, truck driver and father of two died as the scene. Way was heading to his pick up his girlfriend and his friend’s wife then returning to their hotel following an Airsoft tournament. Scott was charged with impaired driving causing death, driving with over 80 mg of alcohol and fleeing the scene of a collision. Witnesses at the scene reported Scott removed his licence plates, took his identification and threw them over a fence before attempting to jump over it himself. The driving over 80 and fleeing the scene charges were later withdrawn.
On Friday, court heard emotional victim impact statements from Way’s family and friends who now, a little over a year later, Madame Justice Helen MacLeod- Beliveau said are still very traumatized.
“I no longer have a father because of what you (Scott) did,” wrote Way’s son Dakota. “We had been estranged but before you killed him he messaged me and wanted to reconnect. All I have left are stories of my dad. I have had to turn to counselling to help with my trauma. It would have been one thing if you would have stayed but you ran like a coward. Life wasn’t easy before this and because of your irresponsibility my life has gotten harder.”
“Your actions have thrown my life, the life of Shawn’s sons and many other members of his family into chaos,” Way’s wife Hope wrote. “Most days I live in a half fog. Sometimes unable to get out of bed, in pain from head to toe because of depression and medications. In your stupidity, you took the life of my husband, a father, son, brother, uncle and a friend to many. The thing that angers me the most is that you ran from the scene. You knew what you did was wrong and you ran. I have no sympathy for you at all.”
“When driving down the highway and see crosses where people have been killed almost brings tears to my eyes. Likewise when seeing white transport trucks,” wrote Way’s father Doug. “A life taken too soon.”
“There have been many meltdowns and tears,” Gwen Way wrote. “I didn’t even want to put a Christmas tree up this year.”
Sherry Ann Way admitted she too didn’t feel like celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas this year. She said his loss has left a hole and almost daily she finds herself logging on to Facebook hoping there will be a message from her brother.
Way’s best friend Paul Cave wrote how when ‘Shawn didn’t return to the hotel he went looking for him.’ “Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling as you make your way around the curve in the road and are confronted with the flashing lights of EMS, fire and police?” The carnage and through that rushes through your mind, ‘Oh my God it’s Shawn.’ I am still trying to deal with the chaos of events…. I feel like time has stood still for me.”
“There are not many words I can offer to the family for their loss of a loved one,” cried Scott. “I am sincerely sorry. I am sorry to my family, friends, the community, emergency services and the court. The effect my decision had on everyone is something no one can change. I understand and can accept the consequences of my actions. What I can’t accept is everyone has to live with those consequences.”
Hoping to send a strong message of deterrence and denunciation, Madame Justice MacLeod-Beliveau handed down her sentence.
In her decision, which she said was a difficult one to make, Madame Justice MacLeod-Beliveau took into account the loss of life and its impact on the family, Scott’s attempt to flee the scene, the level of alcohol consumed, his guilty plea, the fact Scott had no criminal record, his exemplary life as a volunteer firefighter and prison guard, his loss of employment and a positive pre-sentencing report.
“There is no sentence, driving prohibition or order that I can impose to bring back your loved one,” MacLeod-Beliveau said to Way’s family. “I appreciate that you have traveled a long way. Keep the positive things about your loved one and try to put this negativity behind you as your life goes on.”
“The victims have been seriously impacted. I can’t imagine losing a loved one in these circumstances. Mr. Way was a good person, a loving man with children, with an active life and solid friends. He didn’t do anything wrong and yet it cost him his life.”
She also pointed to the loss experienced by Scott’s family. “You have also lost a family member and the person you knew as a community member in that instant when he chose to drive drunk.”
A five year driving prohibition was also imposed on Scott along with a DNA order and 10 year weapons ban.