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Drunk driver sentenced for causing fatal highway crash in Nanaimo

Colin Hewitt handed four-and-a-half-year sentence related to 2021 crash at Cranberry intersection
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The courthouse in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)

A drunk driver who ran a red light and caused a crash that killed a woman two years ago will see jail time.

Colin Joseph Harold Hewitt, 51, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison after being charged with dangerous driving causing death and impaired operation causing death. The fatal crash occurred May 20, 2021, at the intersection of Cranberry Avenue and Trans-Canada Highway. Kathy Bagshaw, who was 74, died in the crash.

Hewitt previously pleaded guilty at provincial court in Nanaimo and on Friday, Oct. 27, Judge Karen Whonnock sentenced him to four and a half years on all counts, to be served at the same time.

In her decision, the judge said although the speed limit at the site of the crash was 70 kilometres per hour, the investigation found Hewitt was driving 114km/h.

Bagshaw was turning left, with a green light, when she was T-boned by Hewitt’s truck. She died instantly when her vehicle was torn in half. Hewitt’s vehicle went airborne and rolled numerous times.

The accused admitted to consuming four beers and the toxicology report detected marijuana in his system. His blood alcohol was found to be 257 milligrams per 100 millilitres, three times the legal limit.

When police were speaking with him after the crash, they observed slurred speech, the smell of liquor and believed he didn’t understand his rights. A witness said they saw Hewitt run another red light a block away.

Among his previous driving infractions were 16 speeding violations, seven 24-hour driving prohibitions and a conviction for driving while impaired, although all those charges were from more than 15 years ago.

Basil McCormick, Crown counsel, sought six to eight years’ incarceration, while Chris Churchill, defence counsel, sought four to five years.

In her ruling, Whonnock said it was impossible to put a value to human life, but mitigating factors included Hewitt’s admission to guilt early on, expression of remorse and the fact he didn’t flee the scene. The judge said some may see her decision as too lenient, some as too harsh, but she is bound to follow legislation, sentencing principles, case law and aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

Roger Hinton, Bagshaw’s brother-in-law, wished Hewitt had been sentenced to serve more time.

“You always want more, you want to try and curb drinking and driving,” Hinton said. “I would’ve liked the eight years and a 10-year driving ban, but the judge made her decision and we have to live with it.”

When asked if he thought the guilty man did anything to suggest he was truly sorry, Hinton said “I’m not sure about that.”

Following his release, Hewitt will be subject to a five-year driving prohibition.

RELATED: Woman dies in crash on highway in south Nanaimo



karl.yu@nanaimobulletin.com

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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