Southern Alberta Newspapers
A man who severely injured four people, including a seven-day old infant, in a head-on collision on the Trans-Canada Highway was sentenced to two years imprisonment and a five-year driving suspension Wednesday.
Curtis Perry Beisel, who was previously found guilty of four charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm and four counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, appeared at Medicine Hat Provincial Court alongside defence lawyer Lyndon Heidinger, who made a joint submission with the Crown.
A pre-sentence report and four victim impact statements were submitted to Judge Eric Brooks, but were not made public.
Beisel, who lives in Cypress County, was arrested after driving at least 1.06 kilometres for 30 to 40 seconds into oncoming traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway on the evening of Dec. 17, 2015.
He missed several signs that indicated he was driving the wrong way and continued driving as an oncoming vehicle honked at him as a warning.
The Crown said Wednesday that the victims’ “injuries are significant.”
The seven-day-old child suffered a broken femur and was flown to Calgary for treatment.
Testimony during trial heard that the infant’s mother suffered from scarring, and broken fingers and a bone on her wrist that required a full cast, meaning she had difficulty even holding her newborn following the collision.
The infant’s aunt had a snapped right ankle where the bone was sticking out and required surgery, plates and screws.
A passenger in Beisel’s car was also seriously injured.
The young man testified during the trial that he had a shattered knee, a “busted” femur, which now has a titanium rod in it, and having to have the tendons of one hand pinned back together.
During the trial, Brooks accepted testimony from the RCMP toxicology expert that Beisel’s blood-alcohol level was 173 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, which is well above the legal limit.
The judge also found that Beisel’s behaviour and comments to the arresting RCMP officer showed that the accused was not even aware he had been driving the wrong way.
Brooks rejected the defence’s arguments that the expert’s method for calculating this were flawed.
At the sentencing, Heidinger cited Beisel’s close relationship with his friends and elderly mother as “redeemable qualities.”
They will be impacted by his going to jail for an extended period of time, he added.
Brooks asked Heindinger if he felt a psychological assessment was necessary for his client, as Beisel expressed paranoid anti-government views in the report.
Heidinger and the Crown agreed that it wasn’t necessary.
“It clearly is a regrettable action,” Brooks said, adding that the collision had “very serious consequences.”
He was given two years concurrent for each of the impaired driving causing bodily harm charges and nine months concurrent for each dangerous operation of motor vehicle charge.
In his previous court appearance, Beisel was given a one-year driving suspension. Brooks said the new five-year suspension will be concurrent with the original one.
Beisel declined to comment when given the opportunity to address the court.