KAMLOOPS - A Calgary man was sentenced to two years in prison today for causing a deadly 2016 collision on the Coquihalla Highway while he was exhausted from over-driving his transport truck.
Shiva K. Raman, 31, had doctored logbooks, but the Crown says from when he first entered his truck 56 hours before the accident, he spent 44 of those driving, including one session of 22.5 hours in a 24-hour period. He was falling asleep behind the wheel and killed a Merritt woman and injured another woman when they tried to pull over to let him pass.
Raman previously pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing the death of Linda Tom and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm of her daughter Monica Tom after he rear-ended their car.
Shortly before 5 a.m. Aug. 30, 2016, Raman was driving a semi-trailer truck heading southbound on the Coquihalla Highway towards Merritt. The Crown told the court Tom was returning from Kamloops to Merritt with her daughter after visiting a friend. Monica Tom said her mother was a nervous and cautious driver and it was common for her to pull over on the side of the highway to let vehicles past her.
"Her mother found driving on the Coquihalla highway nerve-racking," Crown Counsel Neil Flanagan said in Kamloops Supreme Court today, Oct. 30. "It appears that she was not wearing a seatbelt which may have resulted in her death."
Flanagan said Monica noticed Raman's vehicle approaching from behind and attempted to pull over near Helmer Road, approximately 30 kilometres from Merritt. He said Raman was not speeding and travelling slightly under the 120-kilometre speed limit, according to a recording device inside the truck.
Tom was in the farthest right-hand lane and was about to pull over onto the shoulder of the highway when the collision occurred, Flanagan said. The commercial truck struck the vehicle from behind, ejecting and killing Tom.
He said the recording device captured the moments before the collision which indicated Raman was attempting to brake and react to the collision.
"It appears Mr. Raman fell asleep or was approaching exhaustion and could not pay attention," Flanagan said. "The video shows Mr. Raman was very tired."
He said the video showed Raman talking to himself, shouting and slapping himself to stay awake.
"He had opportunities to pull over but he didn't, he felt there was some need for him to drive for long periods of time," Flanagan said.
On Aug. 28, 2016, Raman left Calgary at 6:30 a.m. and arrived in Surrey at 6:30 p.m. At around 8 p.m. he started driving back to Calgary and arrived at 7 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2016. He stayed in Calgary until 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 29, 2016 when he departed again to start making his way back to B.C. He hit Tom at 5 the following morning.
"Mr. Raman was very tired... he arrived in Golden at about midnight," Flanagan says, adding that his exhaustion was an important factor in determining his sentence.
When police searched Raman's truck, they found doctored log sheets which showed Raman was deliberately trying to hide the fact he was driving longer than provincial regulations allow, Flanagan said.
"I want to apologize for my actions... I wish I didn't sit in that driver seat that day," Raman said through tears. "I'm really sorry... I'm prepared to serve time."
Justice Sherri Ann Donegan sentenced Raman to two years in prison and a three-year driving prohibition.
"The Tom family will never be the same again... I accept your remorse is genuine," Donegan told Raman in her sentencing.
The defense has requested Raman be transferred to a prison outside of Calgary where his family can visit him at the Bowden Institution.
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