Lisa Twiddy spent a cold and lonely Christmas Day at her son’s grave in Hatley Gardens.
“This year, we had to whisper Merry Christmas to a cold, hard stone,” Twiddy told David James Chiasson’s sentencing hearing Wednesday in Western Communities provincial court.
Chiasson, 19, has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of 15-year-old Nicolas Twiddy and dangerous driving causing bodily harm to Maria Forbes and Steve Livingstone. The fatal crash happened around 10:15 a.m. on April 9, 2012, in the 7000-block of West Coast Road.
Crown prosecutor Steve Salmond asked Judge Anthony Palmer to impose two three-year, concurrent sentences. Defence lawyer Brad Hickford asked Palmer to sentence Chiasson, who has been in custody since May, to an additional six to 12 months in custody. Palmer is expected to deliver his decision in early March.
Salmond told the court that at 12:30 a.m., Chiasson found an unlocked 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier with keys in the ignition in a Sooke driveway and drove off in it.
Around 10 a.m., Chiasson went to Livingstone’s home where Forbes, Livingstone’s girlfriend, and Twiddy were hanging out. According to Salmond, Chiasson told them he had borrowed a friend’s car and suggested they go to the beach.
“The three youths did not realize they were in a stolen vehicle,” Salmond told the court.
Chiasson drove to West Coast Road, a windy, two-lane road with a speed limit of 60 kilometre an hour, said Salmond. Chiasson passed the driver of a Ford Escape on a double, solid line, heading into a blind curve. As Chiasson tried to get back into his lane, he went too far to the right in the speeding car and ended up on the gravel shoulder.
The car began to rotate, went back across the road and hit a utility pole. The left side of the car — where Twiddy was sitting in the back seat — slammed into the pole.
The pole was sheared off. The car flipped over and came to rest on its roof, said Salmond.
Twiddy was fatally injured. Forbes, who was 15 at the time, was airlifted to hospital. Her injuries included a fractured left cheekbone, an upper jaw fracture, a fractured sternum, multiple fractures of her right pelvis, a first lumbar fracture, two broken ribs, a bruised heart and a bruised left lung and cuts, said Salmond. She also had a concussion and has problems with short-term memory and concentration. Forbes spent one week in hospital and was unable to walk for three months.
Livingstone, who was 18 at the time of the crash, injured his left leg and used a cane for a month. He suffers from depression, anxiety and survivor’s guilt. Like Forbes, he lost his best friend.
Tears flowed as Lisa Twiddy read her victim impact statement into the court record, describing the nightmare of losing her son. To pay for his funeral, Twiddy put everything she owned up for sale, including a puppy and family heirlooms. She lost her job, her favourite car and is struggling to keep her house, she said.
“David will never really understand what he did to us all,” she said.
Twiddy told the court she talked to Chiasson after the crash and asked him why he steals cars. He told her stealing and driving cars is an adrenaline rush and they do it in Alberta, she said.
“He did not say he was sorry.”
But Hickford stressed Chiasson, who appeared at times to be crying during the hearing, was remorseful. Hickford showed the court an interview with Chiasson aired on CHEK News a few days after the crash.
A tearful Chiasson tells the camera: “I regret everything.”
“He continues to struggle with what occurred,” said Hickford. “He did not intend to cause death or bodily harm and he accepts full responsibility for what happened.”
Chiasson continues to receive trauma counselling at the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre.
Chiasson had a difficult upbringing and was living on the streets at the age of 13, said Hickford. His older brother committed suicide and his mother and stepfather don’t have much to do with him.
In February 2012, he came to the coast and met this group of friends in Sooke.