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Guilty plea to MVA offences may result in jail time
A Kelowna driver is facing the prospect of jail time for mowing into three pedestrians following an argument with her husband.
Sandra Curliss, 45, was scheduled to go to trial on Monday on three counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and one count of failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm.
But instead, Curliss pleaded guilty to the Motor Vehicle Act offences of driving without due care and attention and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Crown gave sentencing submissions Monday, saying they and defence were seeking a nine month jail term for Curliss.
Defence will give their submissions in August, to allow Curliss time to make arrangements for the care of her children following sentencing, the court heard.
It was back on Dec. 31, 2008, about 30 minutes before midnight, that three friends were walking along Gordon Drive when the driver of a truck failed to negotiate a turn near Thornloe Crescent, drove onto the sidewalk and hit the three women.
The truck did not stop.
One woman was hit by the quarter panel of the truck and was able to get home, tell her husband what happened, and call 911.
The other two women suffered “severe life threatening injuries” to their legs and ankles, Crown counsel indicated.
Both women suffered numerous fractures and had to have a number of rods, screws and plates put in their legs.
A dog the women had been walking perished following the crash.
A traffic reconstructionist said that after the vehicle returned to the road, it drove onto the centre island on the street for a time.
The officer also noticed seven to eight fishtail marks on the snowy road for another 150 metres past where the truck hit the women.
He wasn’t, however, able to determine the truck’s speed, only estimating the critical curve speed on the tight turn to be in excess of 59 kilometres per hour.
Curliss, in an interview with police several days later, said she remembered a “thump” but believed it was from hitting a snow bank.
She realized she must have hit the women in the days after the crash, when she saw a newspaper article about the incident.
She contacted a lawyer and then arranged to meet with the RCMP.
If not for her coming forward, it is unlikely police would have been able to find enough evidence to charge her with the crash, the court heard.
On the night of the crash, Curliss said she was driving her husband’s truck, trying to beat him home after they had an argument where the topic of divorce was raised.
Curliss told an officer she thought she had slowed enough when she approached the curve and believed she “scared” the women with the sound of her brakes.
She didn’t think she drove onto the sidewalk and was not aware she hit the women, Curliss told the police.
Since realizing she was responsible for the crash, Curliss has wanted to apologize to the women, Crown counsel indicated.
A private meeting between Curliss and the women was expected to take place Monday after Crown’s sentencing submissions.
They’re seeking a total of nine months in jail for the two offences, a two-year driving prohibition and $4,000 in fines.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to continue in August before Judge Ellen Burdett.