A man who was convicted last year in relation to an Abbotsford motorcycle crash that killed passenger Megan Kinnee of Maple Ridge in 2018 should serve 18 months in jail, says Crown counsel in the case.
But the lawyer for Harrison Heth-Klems recommended Monday (April 4) that his client be given a conditional sentence order (CSO) – in the community – of 18 months to two years less a day, or 12 months in jail if the judge determines that a CSO cannot be applied to the case.
The Crown is also seeking a four-year driving ban, while the defence is recommending that Heth-Klems be restricted to driving only for work and medical emergencies.
Heth-Klems’ sentencing hearing took place in B.C. Supreme Court in Abbotsford. Justice Jennifer Duncan has reserved her decision for a later date.
Heth-Klems, 26, was convicted last December of dangerous driving causing death. Duncan ruled that his driving constituted “a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the same circumstances.”
Kinnee, 19, was a passenger on a 2000 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R being driving by Heth-Klems – her boyfriend at the time – on July 13, 2018 when they crashed into the rear of a 2008 Lincoln Navigator.
The crash occurred in the eastbound lane of South Parallel Road near Cole Road after Heth-Klems turned to look at a separate collision on the adjacent Highway 1.
Witnesses testified at trial that the motorcycle did not slow down before crashing into the back of the Navigator.
Surveillance video from a business 1.3 kilometres west of the crash scene indicated that Heth-Klems was travelling about 120 km/hr – the speed limit was 80 km/hr – at the time he passed the camera on South Parallel Road.
Kinnee died on the scene, and Heth-Klems suffered injuries that included 17 fractures to his pelvis and back, severe lung damage and broken ribs. He was in a wheelchair for seven months, on crutches for three months, and his right leg is paralyzed from the knee down, the court was told.
Crown lawyer Rob Macgowan said during the hearing that Heth-Klems’ prior driving record needs to be taken into account in sentencing.
He said that, prior to the collision, Heth-Klems had been cited for 14 driving offences, including six for speeding, one of which was excessively.
Macgowan said Heth-Klems had been prohibited from driving by the superintendent of motor vehicles on “multiple occasions,” including one of which was in effect at the time of the fatal crash.
He also did not have a motorcycle licence at the time of the collision.
Macgowan said Heth-Klems had two more driving offences – driving while prohibited and speeding – after the crash.
He said the fact that Heth-Klems “continued to flout the rules of a reasonable driver” after a crash that killed his girlfriend is an aggravating factor in the case.
Defence lawyer Matthew Smith said Heth-Klems has carried a “serious emotional burden” from the collision and the death of Kinnee.
“He has exhibited genuine remorse and has sought counselling to address the remorse and shame …,” Smith said.
He said mitigating factors for Heth-Klems are his devotion to his six-year-old son and his diligence as the owner of a welding business. As well, Smith said his client has strong community support, as evidenced by more than a dozen letters of reference submitted to the court.
Four victim-impact statements were read in court from Kinnee’s loved ones, including her dad, Wayne Marchant, who had custody of her when she was growing up.
In a statement read by a victim services worker, Marchant described his daughter as “beautiful, inside and out” and as well-mannered, generous and compassionate.
He said she loved children, animals and the ocean, and made a lasting impression on those she met. She had been looking forward to buying a brand-new car and travelling, he said.
Since his daughter’s death, Marchant said he has suffered anxiety, depression, panic attacks and “vivid nightmares.”
“I can’t accept that all of this is real and my baby girl is no longer here,” he said.
Kinnee’s mom, Bree, who wore a shirt with her daughter’s photo on it, said she is having difficulty moving forward.
“I lost my spark when I lost my baby girl. I guess you could say I am angry. I’m angry that this could have all been avoided,” she said.
“Megan should be turning 24. Maybe she would have travelled or even had a baby in that time. I will never know because all of that has been stolen from me.”
Heth-Klems declined to speak at the sentencing hearing when asked by the judge.