A motorcyclist whose passenger, Megan Kinnee of Maple Ridge, died in a 2018 crash in Abbotsford has been sentenced to a one-year jail term for dangerous driving causing death.
Harrison Heth-Klems, 26, also received a three-year driving ban on Wednesday (April 27) in BC Supreme Court in Abbotsford.
Justice Jennifer Duncan rejected defence lawyer Matthew Smith’s prior recommendation that Heth-Klems be given a conditional sentence – meaning he would serve his time in the community – of 18 months to two years less a day.
Duncan said the aggravating factors in the case meant jail time was required to properly address the principles of denunciation and deterrence.
Heth-Klems, 26, was convicted last December, when Duncan ruled that his driving constituted “a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the same circumstances.”
Kinnee, 19, was a passenger on a 2000 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R being driving by Heth-Klems – her boyfriend at the time – on July 13, 2018 when they crashed into the rear of a 2008 Lincoln Navigator.
The crash occurred in the eastbound lane of South Parallel Road near Cole Road after Heth-Klems turned to look at a separate collision on the adjacent Highway 1.
Witnesses testified at trial that the motorcycle did not slow down before crashing into the back of the Navigator.
Surveillance video from a business 1.3 kilometres west of the crash scene indicated that Heth-Klems was travelling about 120 km/hr – the speed limit was 80 km/hr – at the time he passed the camera on South Parallel Road.
Kinnee died on the scene, and Heth-Klems suffered injuries that included 17 fractures to his pelvis and back, severe lung damage and broken ribs. He was in a wheelchair for seven months, on crutches for three months, and his right leg is paralyzed from the knee down, the court was told.
Prior to the collision, Heth-Klems had been cited for 14 driving offences, including six for speeding, one of which was excessively.
Heth-Klems had also been prohibited from driving by the superintendent of motor vehicles on several occasions, including one of which was in effect at the time of the fatal crash.
He also did not have a motorcycle licence at the time of the collision.
Heth-Klems had two more driving offences – driving while prohibited and speeding – after the crash.
Duncan said in her ruling that Heth-Klems’ actions on the day of the crash were “selfish.” She said his decision to speed and take his eye off the road caused Kinney her life.
“I accept that he’s remorseful for causing the death of Miss Kinney, but cannot find that he truly grasps that driving is a regulated activity,” Duncan said.
However, she said Crown’s recommendation of an 18-month jail term “over-emphasized” the aggravating factors. She said also needing to be taken into account were the mitigating factors – Heth-Klems’ devotion to his six-year-old son, strong community support and “gainful employment” as the owner of welding business.