Driver fined in death of cyclist

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A mom was driving to get her three young children to Brandon for school supplies when she made a momentary mistake that cost a cyclist his life.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 06/03/2015 (2724 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A mom was driving to get her three young children to Brandon for school supplies when she made a momentary mistake that cost a cyclist his life.

It’s a mistake that Jody Lynette Bone says will always haunt her.

“It’s something I’d never forget,” Bone said outside Brandon provincial court after pleading guilty to careless driving causing death under the Highway Traffic Act. “I just hope that my kids don’t live with it.”

Bone was fined $4,000 and had her driver’s licence suspended for six months.

Graeme Steven Loader, a 24-year-old from the Toronto area, was cycling across Canada to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund.

He was struck from behind by Bone’s 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer along Highway 1A west of Brandon at 8 p.m. on Sept. 1, 2014.

Crown attorney Jim Ross said Loader was hit while riding east along the edge of the highway, on the pavement between the white fog line and the gravel shoulder — as close to the gravel as he could get.

He should have been easy to see in his white T-shirt, and with his saddlebag and packs, as visibility at the time was good and the road flat.

Bone was driving east with her three children — aged four, six and eight years — in the back seat of the SUV.

They were on their way to Brandon to get school supplies for the new school year, Ross said.

Loader was struck full-on by the middle of the SUV’s grill and its right tires were on the shoulder during impact.

Loader “windmilled” over the vehicle and his head hit the windshield. He fell to the ground with a damaged spine and likely felt little pain, Ross said.

His cycling helmet was found inside the SUV.

Loader never regained consciousness and died of massive crushing injuries.

“Mercifully, the cyclist never knew what hit him,” Ross said.

Bone, too overwhelmed to walk over to the injured Loader, dialed 911 from the scene.

She told police that just prior to the collision she’d taken a water bottle from one of her children in the back seat and put it in a cup holder.

Ross said Bone turned around, and during that brief distraction, she wandered over the fog line and struck Loader. She looked back to the road too late to avoid hitting him.

The speed limit on the road was 100 km/h, and Bone was going 69 km/h to 82 km/h at time of impact, which indicates she braked when she realized she was going to hit the cyclist.

The events weren’t so quick that the collision couldn’t be avoided, Ross said. A witness in another vehicle told a fellow passenger: “Oh my God, look what’s about to happen.”

Police observed that Bone was sober and there was no evidence she’d been using a cellphone. She hadn’t been speeding and the SUV was in good condition.

She was originally charged with dangerous driving but that charge was dropped, and Ross explained that police laid that charge without consulting the Crown.

The evidence didn’t support dangerous driving — which typically requires evidence of a pattern of dangerous conduct, such as weaving in and out of traffic.

This case was clearly careless driving, Ross said — a lack of attention lasting several seconds.

Loader’s family didn’t travel from Ontario to attend sentencing and didn’t submit victim impact statements. Prior to court, Ross explained that it was too emotionally painful for them.

However, Ross told court that Loader’s father told him that he didn’t think Bone should go to jail.

The single mom had no criminal record and the sole conviction on her driving record was for failing to display a number plate.

Defence lawyer Bob Harrison said his client is from Sioux Valley Dakota Nation where she volunteers for powwows and organizes the community’s winter festival.

Harrison said his client can’t get the crash out of her mind and had tears in her eyes prior to court.

“There’s nothing negative to say about this young woman,” he said.

Ross recommended a $4,000 to $5,000 fine and driving suspension, and Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta said similar cases in the province have brought fines between $1,000 and $8,000.

Following court, Bone said that she and her children have taken counselling to cope with the trauma of the tragedy.

But she still wonders how to move forward as she tries to live with the guilt she feels.

“It’s something that you live with every day and it’s hard … even with my kids. They know what happened and they ask why. I don’t want to blame them, I’d rather help them to try to forget about it.”

To Loader’s family she would say: “I truly am sorry and I know that sorry is not going to fix it.”

» ihitchen@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @IanHitchen

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