A Cornwall man whose blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit when he caused a fatal collision near Eldon was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison.
Stephen Michael Quinn, 56, appeared before Justice Jacqueline Matheson in P.E.I. Supreme Court in Charlottetown for sentencing after previously pleading guilty to drunk driving causing death.
Quinn was working as a delivery driver for MacInnis Express and was driving a company van on March 5, 2018, when he swerved into the path of Melissa Ann Palmer’s Honda Civic on Route 1.
Palmer had left home about 20 minutes earlier to get pop to go with the pizza she was having for supper with her husband.
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Crown attorney Nathan Beck read an agreed statement of facts detailing the collision that saw the van Quinn was driving veer into Palmer’s lane while going between 99 and 108 km/h.
Neither vehicle hit the brakes.
Beck said Palmer’s husband came across the collision after going to look for her when she didn’t return home.
Palmer was treated at the scene for more than an hour before she was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and later transferred to Halifax.
She died the next morning.
Beck said blood samples from Quinn showed his blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit when they were taken, and an RCMP analyst estimated it would have been even higher at the time of the collision.
Firefighters had to extract Quinn from the van, and the police found an empty pint bottle of vodka inside.
Quinn had a prior conviction for failing the breathalyzer in 2002.
Beck said Quinn self-reported drinking 12 bottles of beer a day along with hard liquor and using marijuana daily.
The court heard from three of Palmer’s family members who spoke through tears as they read their victim impact statements.
Family members talked about Palmer as a loving, kind woman who will never be able to live out her full potential.
Palmer’s uncle, Paul Craft, told the court the collision left a void in the family that can never be filled and he said they were dealing with “devastating, gut-wrenching pain.”
A tearful Quinn addressed the court before hearing his sentence and took a moment to compose himself before saying he was sorry for the pain and suffering he has caused.
He also said he deserved whatever sentence he got.
“This was senseless. It didn’t have to happen,” Quinn said.
In sentencing Quinn to five years in prison, Matheson said his culpability was very high and he appears to understand the impact he had.
Along with the prison time, Quinn will be banned from driving for 10 years after his release.
He must also provide a DNA sample for the national databank.