The man charged in a head-on collision south of Nanaimo that killed a retired police sergeant in 2018 has been found guilty in B.C. provincial court.
Conrad Nikolaus Wetten, 25, was charged with driving a motor vehicle without due care and attention in relation to the incident. Shinder Kirk died when his Chevy pickup and a Ford pickup Wetten was driving collided on Cedar Road. The investigation revealed that alcohol and speed were not contributing factors.
In her decision, Judge Karen Whonnock said that there was no evidence of pre-existing fluids on the road, such as oil, and the evidence supported the conclusion that Wetten’s vehicle caused the collision.
Wetten’s vehicle left the lane and crossed the double yellow line and travelled into the oncoming lane and collided with the oncoming vehicle. While Wetten wasn’t driving with excessive speed or recklessly, she said he did not go far enough to ensure safe passage on the road and failed to navigate the turn.
Further, Whonnock said Wetten didn’t take all reasonable steps to avoid the collision, as there was no evidence that he tried to steer or swerve away from the oncoming vehicle or apply brakes.
The trial began May 7. Sgt. Brian Nightingale, an RCMP accident reconstructionist, testified that it had been a rainy day. He said “an event data recorder” showed the Chevy travelling at 54 kilometres an hour at the time of the crash. The Ford was estimated to have been travelling between 43 and 53 kilometres an hour.
Ken Paziuk, Crown counsel, suggested a fine between $1,500-$2,000 and an 18-month driving suspension as a sentence. David Brooks, Wetten’s legal representative, sought a fine of $1,500 and if a driving prohibition were to be issued, it be left to the superintendent of motor vehicles.
In his sentencing submissions, Paziuk submitted Wetten’s driving record, which had a pair of speeding infractions that occurred after the 2018 crash in May 2019.
Addressing the court, Wetten apologized for the accident. There was a lot of pain and suffering as a result, and loss of life, and he said he was truly sorry.
When asked about the subsequent driving infractions, Wetten said he had no recollection of them. He does not have a previous criminal record.
Kirk was formerly a spokesperson for the Abbotsford Police and the RCMP Integrated Gang Task Force and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
Whonnock is scheduled to sentence Wetten this Friday, June 25, at the courthouse in Nanaimo.