A Fort St. John woman was convicted last week of being involved in a fatal car accident near Charlie Lake in June 2018.
Bailey Grieve-Guenther, 26, was charged with fatal and dangerous driving and personal injury following the accident at the intersection of the Alaska Highway and 271 Road.
British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Paul Riley acquitted her of these allegations on Friday, calling Grieve-Guenther’s driving inattentive but not criminally negligent.
“I am not satisfied that the driving behavior here is a marked departure from the standard of driving care given by a reasonable person,” said Justice Riley. “When I came to this conclusion, my guess is that the consequences of the collision were tragic, one young woman lost her life and another was seriously injured.”
Grieve-Guenther was driving up the Alaska Highway on June 15, 2018 when her Honda Civic collided at the intersection with a southbound Ford pickup truck that was pulling off 271 Road. The victim, a 19-year-old woman and a Honda passenger, was hospitalized and later died of her injuries. Other affected passengers were treated for non-life threatening injuries.
The court heard that the data of the crash were being scrutinized by RCMP to investigate the circumstances, which confirmed that Grieve-Gunthers Honda was the cause.
Both vehicles pulled into the intersection when the lights changed and were within the 90-kilometer speed limit. The court heard that both drivers had been drinking before the accident, but not enough to be considered impaired by either party.
Grieve-Guenther admitted changing the songs on her car’s stereo, which took her off the road. Other environmental factors were also taken into account, including sun glare, which affected Grieve-Günther’s view, and she had her sun visor pulled down to reduce the glare.
Justice Riley said this does not absolve Grieve-Guenther from responsibility, but also said she has no history of reckless driving.
“This is not a case where there is a clear pattern of bad driving in the pre-collision timeframe,” said Justice Riley. “There is no evidence from witnesses sitting in Ms. Grieve-Guenther’s car of any pattern of bad driving. There is also no such evidence from the occupants of the truck or anyone else on the street. ”