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Truck driver sentenced today after killing three teenagers


In 2015, three teen boys were killed in a highway crash with a tractor-trailer. Today, the truck driver is being sentenced for their deaths.

The accident occurred in Saskatchewan, Canada on a flat highway. The driver, Normand Lavoie, 41, claims that he was simply not paying attention. He says he “zoned out.”

According to CBC, Lavoie told police, “With it being Saskatchewan, it’s flat and [you] kind of just go into autopilot.”

Lavoie also told police that he didn’t fall asleep at the wheel, but that he was in “la la land, basically — I’m there behind the wheel but I’m not.”

The Accident

The accident happened on May 3, 2015. Lavoie was hauling foam insulation panels southbound on the highway at about 63 mph when he entered a construction zone.

Lavoie told police that he did not recall entering the construction zone or seeing any of the multiple signs indicating the approaching construction zone.

The tractor-trailer crashed into and crushed a car that was stopped by a flag person.

The 3 teenage boys – Carter Stevenson, 17, Kristian Skalicky, 15, and Justin Gaja, 14 – were stopped by the flag person when Lavoie hit their vehicle. The 3 boys were on their way home from football camp.

They were all killed on impact.

The car then hit a truck hauling a trailer, and that truck hit a flagperson standing in the road: the flagperson, Sam Fetherston, is unable to work and attends weekly counseling because of the accident.

Fetherston spent a week in a coma immediately following the crash, and now more than 2 years later hardly leaves his house, and has difficulties eating and socializing. He is thought to be suffering from survivor’s guilt.

“It kind of makes it hard for you to feel bad about what happened to yourself,” Fetherston said in reference to the 3 boys that lost their lives.

The Trial

This morning Lavoie will be sentenced in Court of Queen’s Bench in Melfort, Saskatchewan.

The court is suggesting 6 years in prison and a 9-year driving ban; however, Lavoie’s defense plans to request leniency from the court because the accident was a mistake.

On the day of the accident, Lavoie’s driving log did not indicate fatigue as a likely contributing cause of the accident; however, he has since been diagnosed with a mild form of sleep apnea. According to CBC, the doctor cannot determine if Lavoie’s sleep apnea is related to this fatal crash.

In May 2017, Lavoie pleaded guilty to three counts of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

The prosecuting attorney, Tyla Olenchuk, stated, “Professional drivers — especially when they’re operating a vehicle in that professional capacity — have a responsibility to others on the road. There are cases that talk about that trust that is put in them, given that they are required to go through extra licensing and training in order to be able to operate those vehicles.”

Fetherston, the injured flag person, emailed a victim impact statement to be presented during the sentencing hearing.

CBC also reported, Justin Gaja’s mother, Crystal, shared a statement with the court as well. She told the court that the only thing she looks forward to now is her dying breath.

Odd Coincidence

Lavoie’s defense lawyer, Michael Nolin, claims that a tractor-trailer killed Lavoie’s mother and grandmother and seriously injured his brother when he was 18. The driver of that tractor-trailer fell asleep at the wheel.

“One of the rarest of rare situations, and the first time in my career that I was able to go before the court and say, Mr. Lavoie knows precisely how the families feel,” Nolin said.

The Verdict

Lavoie has now been sentenced to 3 years in prison, to be served concurrently. As well, as sentenced to serve 1 year in prison for seriously injuring Fetherston.

He is also banned from driving for 5 years upon his release.

“No sentence will relieve the families of their pain or the deep remorse felt by Normand Lavoie,” judge Mona Dovell told the court, stating it was one of the most difficult decisions of her career on the bench.


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