Jail for Kelowna man on painkillers who caused pileup at Highway 97 intersection

Two of the vehicles damaged in a pileup caused by William Waterston's Ford Explorer on May 29, 2016. The driver and passenger of the red Civic were treated at hospital. (Global Okanagan with permission)
Image Credit: Global Okanagan (with permission)

KELOWNA – A Kelowna man was sentenced to jail today for crashing into six vehicles and injuring two people on Highway 97 in Kelowna two years ago.

William Ryan Waterston, 46, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing bodily harm for a multi-vehicle pileup at noon on May 29, 2016.

Crown prosecutor Patricia O’Neil says Waterston was impaired by a painkiller he was prescribed for a dental abscess as he approached the McCurdy Road intersection southbound on Highway 97 in his blue Ford Explorer.

The light was red and both lanes of traffic were stopped.

“As he approached the intersection no brakes were heard to squeal,” O’Neil said in Kelowna Provincial Court today, Feb. 19. “(He) collided with the two vehicles in front of him."

The force of the collision, she says, pushed a small hatchback with two passengers into the pickup parked in front.

“(He) kept on driving in between the two lanes and collided with multiple vehicles in both lanes,” O’Neil said.

A family of four with two young children in a Jeep Grand Cherokee were also rear-ended.

“The force… broke the back window and pushed the Cherokee forward and to the right into a blue Honda CRV.

Six vehicles suffered varying degrees of damage, and a total of 15 people were involved.

Two adults were treated at hospital later that night.

Another witness told police Waterston’s vehicle was traveling between 70 and 80 km/h when it hit the first vehicle.

O’Neil says another witness described him as “out of sorts” with slow, mumbled speech. There was no odour of alcohol.

“He did not appear to comprehend what had happened,” O’Neil said.

Defence lawyer Dave Johnson says Waterston was in “considerable pain” and has “very little memory of the accident.”

“The medication had more of an effect that it should have,” he told Judge Lisa Wyatt.

Waterston has no relevant criminal history and was sentenced to 90 days in jail to be served on weekends and a two-year driving prohibition.

“I have a lot on my mind. I’m not sure I could make that clear,” he said in court when given a chance to speak. “I just think about the kids all the time. I have my own and I’m very fortunate they weren’t with me that day.”

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