Driver in crash that killed 2 boys pleads guilty
Published Monday, July 30, 2012 4:04PM PDT Last Updated Monday, July 30, 2012 7:21PM PDT
A 31-year-old former investment banker who crashed into a minivan on the TransCanada Highway four years ago, killing two young brothers and paralyzing a third, has pleaded guilty.
Ryan John Stewart Miller appeared on a single charge of driving without due care Monday in Port Coquitlam provincial court, where he offered a heartfelt apology to the family of his victims, six-year-old Matthew Moeller and his nine-year-old brother Andrew.
“Not a moment goes by that I don’t think of the Moeller family. I’d do anything to reverse the course of time,” Miller said, adding that he feels “immense grief and loss” for the boys’ loved ones.
The crash also left Karl Moeller, now 11 years old, a paraplegic. He is expected to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
The court heard that the boys’ mother Maria had been driving in a rainy HOV lane on Nov. 29, 2008 when she saw smoke coming from the van’s ventilation system.
While there was a shoulder on the road, the driver panicked and stopped in the middle of the lane with her hazard lights on, causing several other motorists to call 911 and report a potential hazard on the highway.
It was then, after Mrs. Moeller exited the car to inspect it and call for roadside assistance, that Miller’s speeding BMW slammed into the back of the vehicle. A Toyota Echo then struck the side of Miller’s car, which had been in the HOV lane illegally.
Though the defendant was technically speeding prior to the crash, at 90 to 100 kilometres per hour, the court heard he was merely keeping up with the flow of traffic. He also remained at the scene, cooperating with police and assisting with the care of the injured children.
Prosecutor Sheryl Wagner said the Crown requested a victim impact statement from the Moeller family, but the still-grieving parents found it too difficult.
Wagner did read a brief statement on their behalf, saying “There’s no words to describe what a devastating impact this had on our family.”
Wagner also said the Moellers question whether the accused understands the impact the accident has had on their lives, yet they “wish the best” for him.
Miller was arrested at the Vancouver International Airport in July 2011 while returning to Canada from Australia, where he had been studying law.
Mounties said Miller left Canada in 2009 after a charge was approved against him in connection with the crash, though Miller’s lawyer Phil Riddell offered a new perspective on that claim Monday.
Riddell argued that his client was never informed by police or Crown lawyers that a charge wasapproved against him when decided to abandon his career in banking to pursue a law degree.
He said Miller returned to Canada in 2010 to visit family, then again in 2011 to deal with his pending civil charge, filed under the Motor Vehicle Act, when he was arrested at YVR.
The defence portrayed the crash as a tragic accident that was brought about by several factors, and which potentially could have been avoided had road conditions been better, had the minivan’s lights been brighter or if Miller had been paying more attention.
“It’s a terrible story of what if, what if, what if,” Riddell said.
Miller’s lawyer asked for a $750 to $1,000 fine and no driving ban, while Crown called for a $1,500 fine and a “brief” driving prohibition.
Miller has a young child of his own and a wife, who was present in the courtroom Monday and frequently sobbed during proceedings.
A sentencing decision is expected to be handed down Wednesday.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Brent Shearer