Driver sentenced to 9 years for 2020 crash that killed 3
The Ontario man who drove his sportscar into a south Edmonton Starbucks, killing all three of his passengers, was sentenced to nine years in prison on Friday.
Oscar Benjumea, 27, pleaded guilty in May to three counts of dangerous driving causing death in the July 3, 2020 crash, as well as to a fourth count of failing to stop at an accident involving death.
Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Peter Michalyshyn sentenced Benjumea to 7 1/2 years for the deaths as well as a further 18 months, to be served consecutively, for leaving the scene of the collision.
“Mr. Benjumea’s case includes three deaths and dangerousness that approaches the most serious imaginable and accordingly attracts the highest level of moral blameworthiness,” he ruled.
Michalyshyn cited how Benjumea was nine months into a year-long driving ban at the time of the crash, as well as his consumption of alcohol prior to driving as aggravating factors in sentencing.
He also rejected Benjumea’s assertion that a head injury sustained in the crash prevented him from fully understanding what he had done.
“His post-offence conduct speaks to his guilty mind,” Michalyshyn ruled. “He was well aware of the calamity he caused yet he acted in furtherance of his own self-interest.”
Michalyshyn said Benjumea was a “good candidate” for rehabilitation, noting his relatively young age as well as his guilty pleas as mitigating factors.
'A PATENTLY DANGEROUS MANNER'
At the sentencing hearing last December, Crown prosecutors argued for 12-year sentences for each death to be served concurrently, along with one year for failing to stop, resulting in a potential 13-year sentence.
“As the driver, Mr. Benjumea ought to have exercised a duty of care towards his passengers,” Crown prosecutor Kate Andress said.
“Instead, he drove in a patently dangerous manner which put the lives of everyone around him at risk, and unfortunately, but predictably, killed all of his passengers when he caused a catastrophic collision.”
Defence lawyer Dino Bottos argued for a sentence of four years for each of the three deaths to be served concurrently as well as an additional term of one to two years for failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Court must be careful not to impose a sentence that might make some members of the public feel that their desire for vengeance has been satisfied,” Bottos said, noting no sentence would lessen the anguish of the victims’ families.
"We understand that some members of the public would like you to lock Mr. Benjumea up and throw away the key ... however that is not how we sentence offenders in Canada."
'SO FAST MY VEHICLE SHOOK'
According to an agreed statement of facts, Benjumea was driving his 2018 Audi R S5 at a speed of up to 193 km/h in an area with a posted speed limit of 60 km/h after leaving a Whyte Avenue club with the three others after 2 a.m.
A witness told investigators the Audi was travelling "so fast my vehicle shook when he drove by us" as he drove south on Calgary Trail.
Benjumea lost control of the vehicle, hitting a curb and sending the vehicle airborne before it slid across a grassy area and slammed into the Starbucks near 55 Avenue.
His passengers were all killed in the crash: 21-year-old Georgia Donovan, 20-year-old Emma Macarthur, and 32-year-old Faisal Yousef.
The impact sheared off the passenger side of the vehicle as well as the roof and parts of the hood, leaving the engine exposed.
A 911 call played in court from a witness who pulled Benjumea from the wreckage described an injured, disoriented and suicidal Benjumea wandering around the crash site.
Court also saw surveillance video showing the Audi crash into the Starbucks before Benjumea fled the area by making his way through parking lots of several businesses along Calgary Trail.
He was arrested 10 hours later at his home in southwest Edmonton and taken to hospital with cuts, a fractured arm, and broken fingers.
Benjumea is also banned from driving for 10 years from the date of his release and was ordered to provide a DNA sample.
He has about 6 1/2 years remaining to be served after credit for time already spent in custody.
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
As the May long weekend kicked off, a massive thunderstorm in southern Ontario and Quebec brought strong wind gusts that knocked down trees, took out power and left at least three people dead.
The federal government is reporting a sharp rise in influenza in recent months, at a time of the year when detected cases generally start to fall in Canada.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he will not be running in the race to pick a new leader of the United Conservative party.
The United Kingdom's former prime minister Tony Blair says Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to invade Ukraine is an 'act of madness.' In an interview on CTV's Question Period airing Sunday, Blair said Putin doesn't appear to be the same man he knew in the early 2000s.
Roberta Drury, a 32-year-old woman who was the youngest of the 10 Black people killed at a Buffalo supermarket, was remembered at her funeral Saturday for her love for family and friends, tenacity 'and most of all, that smile that could light up a room.'
Why does smoke seem to follow you around a campfire? B.C. research scientist Kerry Anderson told CTVNews.ca the answer actually boils down to physics.
Some drivers in Toronto may be feeling on edge as Toronto is dealing with a rash of violent carjackings targeting mostly high-end vehicles.
The nightmares started last May, said Harvey McLeod, chief of the Upper Nicola Indian Band and a survivor of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
'Won’t open them until we win': Flames fan hopes to pop Champagne bottles meant for '04 Stanley Cup run
It was almost exactly 18 years ago when Calgary Flames fan Shane Byciuk managed to sneak two bottles of Champagne into the Saddledome for Game 6 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.
A frost advisory was issued for most of central and southern Alberta by Environment Canada Saturday afternoon.
Chief Thunderstick National Hockey Championship in Saskatoon gathers dozens of Indigenous teams from across Canada
From Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to Ochapawace, Saskatchewan, Indigenous hockey teams from all over Canada are in Saskatoon this weekend playing in the Fred Sasakamoose "Chief Thunderstick" National Hockey Championship.
With the construction season in Saskatchewan getting underway; the provincial government laid out its plans to improve approximately 1,100 km of provincial highways in 2022.
Bagpipes blared and kilts were worn at Victoria Park in Regina on Saturday for the Highland Gathering and Celtic Festival.
A section of Dartmouth's Burnside Industrial Park was shut down Friday after a fire in a scrapyard triggered alerts and air quality warnings.
Environment Canada is advising New Brunswickers in Edmundston and Madawaska County are to watch for the development of severe thunderstorms Saturday evening.
A few dozen friends, family members, and strangers gathered in Spryfield, N.S., on Saturday to search for a teenager who disappeared three months ago.
Three people are dead and more than 350,000 are without power after an intense thunderstorm pummeled southern Ontario Saturday afternoon.
Marineland has banned a number of people from its premises, some of whom have never visited the Niagara Falls, Ont., tourist attraction, days before the facility was set to open for the season.
Environment Canada says "potentially life-threatening" tornados could form in several southern Quebec areas Saturday.
Quebec's College of Physicians and some top lawyers say there's lots of grey area in how Bill 96 will play out in health care -- even after multiple requests to the province to clear up confusion.
Following demonstrations last weekend in Montreal where thousands walked through the downtown core in protest of Quebec's French-language laws, students in the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake are leading a walk of protest Saturday.
One person is dead and at least two others are critically injured after a powerful thunderstorm ripped through Ottawa Saturday afternoon.
The city of Clarence-Rockland, to the east of Ottawa, has declared a state of emergency following a major storm that moved across eastern Ontario on Saturday.
OC Transpo says the O-Train Line 1 will be replaced by R1 bus service until further notice between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations.
Ontario Provincial Police are investigating a death in Brant County after a tree fell on a camping trailer on Saturday.
A severe thunderstorm caused extensive damage, fallen trees, downed hydro lines and power outages across Southern Ontario on Saturday.
It’s the first May long weekend since the City of Waterloo made changes to its fireworks bylaw and city staff said some residents are not obeying the new rules.
As part of this week’s royal tour, a northern Ontario MP reflects on meeting Prince Charles.
It has been two years since the Northern Ontario Railroad Museum and Heritage Centre in Capreol has been able to put on the Family Fun Big Truck showcase.
Over the next couple of weeks, a telephone survey will be conducted on behalf of the PHU as a follow-up to a survey that was conducted two years ago.
The Winnipeg River is expected to crest in early June, according to the Manitoba government.
Officers with the Winnipeg Police Service found the remains of eight dogs inside a freezer at a vacant Winnipeg home.
A social media post is warning young women in Surrey’s Newton neighbourhood to be on high alert, after several have come forward claiming they’ve been followed.
Some British Columbians won’t be getting provincial rebates meant to offset soaring gas prices until the end of July, according to ICBC.
Vancouver police are investigating an unprovoked bear spray attack on a senior in Chinatown Friday morning that they say was preceded by racist comments.
A Vancouver Island health care centre is reducing its operating hours because of staffing considerations.
A free animal wellness clinic that helps homeless and low-income pet owners in Nanaimo receive veterinary care for free is celebrating its third anniversary with a gift of 500 microchips from the BC SPCA.
Before Michelle Gagnon figured out her that her cat liked playing fetch outside in the snow, Bodhi was a skittish kitten.