'Kanata 5' driver sentenced nearly two years
The man guilty of hitting five cyclists in 2009 and leaving the Kanata scene will serve two years less a day in jail after his sentencing Monday.
Sommit Luangpakham, 47, was found guilty on all ten charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and leaving the scene of an accident in October.
"I am deeply sorry for all of the pain I have caused you and your families," Luangpakham said Monday when he addressed the court and victims for the first time. "I did not intend for this to happen."
"I feel really relieved that a decision has been made," said Cathy Anderson, one of the injured cyclists. "I think it was a fair decision given all circumstances."
The sentence falls between the Crown attorney's request for a four-year sentence and the Defence's request of a year to 18 months in jail.
The breakdown of the sentence is nine months for dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Luangpakham also received 15 months minus a day for failing to remain at the scene.
He is banned from driving for a year.
"I wish I could turn back time so I could do things differently. I am praying for you all to get well," Luangpakham said. "I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me."
One of those injured when Luangpakham's minivan drifted into a bike lane in July 2009 said she still doesn't know why he left the scene.
"I can accept an apology from someone who accepts responsibility, and unfortunately I don't believe that Mr. Luangpakham didn't know he hit something significant and should have stopped," Anderson said. "I have a hard time forgiving him for that."
Anderson, Hilary McNamee, Mark White, Robert Harland and Robert Wein all suffered serious to life-threatening injuries in the crash, with Wein still needing 24-hour care for a brain injury.
Luangpakham testified he had fallen asleep and thought he had hit a post before turning himself in to police three hours later.
He said he had been at a party but hadn't been drinking. Police said they smelled alcohol and found a beer bottle cap in his pocket but too much time had passed for police to perform a breathalyzer test.
"The man made a mistake, he is going to answer for it now," said defence attorney Richard Addelman. "But we're all human and people do make mistakes, it was a tragic event."
Luangpakham will be eligible for parole after one-third of his sentence, which will be eight months in.
He is also facing over $9 million in damages in lawsuits from the injured cyclists.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Vanessa Lee