Grande Prairie truck driver sentenced to 2 years for fatal crash

A Grande Prairie truck driver was sentenced to two years for a 2017 crash in Fort McMurray that killed a 65-year-old man and injured a teen.  Tyrel Burton was sentenced Friday in Fort McMurray's Court of Queen's Bench to two years for dangerous driving causing death and one year for dangerous driving causing bodily harm, to be served concurrently. 

Burton, a truck driver of 11 years, pleaded guilty in June.  On Feb.

11, 2017, Burton was driving a tractor-trailer into Fort McMurray on Highway 63 when he failed to stop at a red light, hitting a lineup of cars.  Burton was driving at 86 km/h in a 70 km/h zone. David Caldwell, 65, was killed, while a teenage girl trapped in her car for four hours suffered permanent nerve damage.

Burton, appearing on camera from the Edmonton Remand Centre, kept his head down and shoulders slumped while Justice David Gates delivered the sentence.  "You made a very, very serious error that had dreadful consequences," Gates said. There were several aggravating factors to the crash, such as Burton's status as a professional driver which elevated his responsibility to drive safely, Gates said.

As well, Burton failure to attend to the road for 30 to 45 seconds was more than a "mere moment" of inattention, he said. 

Burton was speeding and failed to notice traffic stopped at a red light. (Wood Buffalo RCMP)

Gates added that Burton was speeding and there were tragic consequences to his actions.  Mitigating factors included an early guilty plea, remorse, lack of a prior record and family and community support.   Gates urged Burton not to look at this sentencing as the end of his life and, with good behaviour, he may serve only a third of the sentence. 

"The great tragedy would be that after all of this ... that you did not learn the lessons you are here to learn," Gates said.  "I've learned," Burton responded.  Prosecutor Scott Niblock had argued Burton should serve one to two years for dangerous driving causing injury, and up to four years for dangerous driving causing death, served concurrently. 

But Gates agreed with defence lawyer Chris Millsap who argued for a two-year sentence. 

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