Tears flowed in Chilliwack courtroom 203 Friday morning as the husband of a pregnant woman who died in a head-on collision on Highway 1 in 2018 read his victim impact statement.
Kelowna residents Justin and Tahya Lloyd were travelling to Vancouver for a getaway weekend, to visit the aquarium and Science World on May 26, 2018.
Tahya was five months pregnant with the couple’s first child, a girl.
As they drove west near Herrling Island on a dry day, the temperature was about 20 C and they were on a relatively straight stretch of road.
Before 11 a.m. that day Frank Marx Tessman’s white pickup truck, traveling upwards of 150 km/h, came swerving from the eastbound lanes colliding head on with the Lloyds’ Toyota Tacoma.
“In a few seconds, the woman I love, my unborn child, and my physical health was taken from me and the course of my life was changed forever,” Lloyd said, eliciting tears from Tahya’s mother and her partner who were in attendance.
Even Crown counsel Carolyn Kramer started to get choked up at the end of reading victim impact statements at Tessman’s sentencing, particularly as she read words from the mother of a young person who was a student in the beloved 31-year-old Kelowna teacher’s classroom.
|Frank Tessman pleaded guilty to a May 2018 crash on Highway 1 that killed a pregnant woman from Kelowna. (Facebook)|
The 48-year-old Tessman pleaded guilty in October 2019 to one count of driving without due care and attention under the Motor Vehicle Act.
While the court heard that he partied all night in Chilliwack drinking eight to 10 beers and smoking crystal meth, he did sleep briefly in between driving and he was not found to be impaired at the time of the crash, which is why no criminal charges were laid.
Instead, his lack of sleep was blamed for his poor driving and falling asleep at the wheel as he was heading to Kelowna, ironically where the Lloyds were coming from.
Both Tessman and Justin Lloyd were airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital with serious injuries, but Tayah died at the scene. Lloyd’s leg was broken in multiple places and he suffered serious soft tissue injuries, all of which required months of rehabilitation.
Kramer told the court that “black boxes” – event data recorders – from both vehicles were examined after the crash. Tessman’s Chevy pickup was found to have been travelling at between 132 to 143 km/h five seconds prior to impact, and that was after evidence of braking on the median.
The Lloyds’ vehicle was travelling at least 67 to 82 km/h at impact, pointing to a last-second effort to brake.
Kramer asked Judge David Silverman to hand down a sentence of 30 days in custody, a fine of $1,000 and an 18-month driving prohibition.
Tessman’s lawyer Phil Derksen said his client wanted to join in the Crown’s sentencing submissions.
“He is profoundly sorry for what happened,” Derksen said. “If he could turn back time he would…. He knows the collision was his fault. He knows he was in the wrong. He told the police that almost immediately.”
Derksen pointed out that prior to this crash, Tessman spent 20 years as a truck driver with a near perfect driving record.
Tayah Lloyd was a teacher at Anne McClymont Elementary school in Kelowna. After the crash, the children she taught, parents and school staff struggled with the tragic news.
Despite the joint submission, Judge Silverman put over his decision pointing to the seriousness of the matter. That decision is scheduled for Feb. 6.
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