Driver who hit Osoyoos cyclist was ‘hammered’

Sentencing delayed for man who pleaded guilty to charges related to accident that saw biker suffer fractured neck and ribs

An admitted drunk driver who ran over a cyclist in Osoyoos is likely headed to jail, but a judge has yet to decide how much time he’ll spend behind bars.

Steven Troy Fields, 29, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing bodily harm and failing to stop at the scene of an accident and was to be sentenced Monday in provincial court in Penticton.

However, the judge assigned to the case reserved his decision to allow more time to consider submissions from Crown and defence.

Fields admitted he was behind the wheel of a Jeep Grand Cherokee that hit Joshua Bergstad around 10 p.m. on May 29, 2014.

Court heard Bergstad was on his bike crossing 87th Street at the intersection with Main Street when he was struck by the Jeep.

Crown counsel John Swanson said Bergstad suffered fractures to his cervical spine and ribs, plus multiple abrasions on his body as a result of the collision that saw him dragged underneath the vehicle for approximately three meters.

Bergstad, a tall, thin man who appears to be in his early 20s, was in the courtroom Monday but declined comment afterwards.

Swanson said multiple witnesses, including two women who were in the Jeep with Fields at the time of crash, offered information to police, who arrested Fields the following day.

Fields told Mounties he didn’t see Bergstad “until it was too late,” Swanson told the court.

“He said he didn’t stop after he hit the bicyclist because he didn’t know first aid” and “simply freaked out,” Swanson continued.

Fields also admitted to police he was “hammered” on alcohol and “couldn’t function” at the time of the offence.

It was only “by the grace of God that Mr. Fields didn’t kill Mr. Bergstad that particular night,” said Swanson, who asked for a one-year jail sentence, two-year driving prohibition and three years’ probation for Fields.

Defence counsel Kathyrn Lundman suggested instead a 90-day jail sentence that could be served on weekends, plus 18 months’ probation.

Lundman submitted multiple letters of support for her client, plus noted his lack of a prior criminal record. She also read an apology letter on Fields’ behalf.

In the letter, Fields wrote that he regrets what happened, and was “completely overwhelmed and “made a lot of bad decisions” that night.

“I don’t have words to say how sorry I am and how this event haunts me,” he wrote.

Judge Brad Chapman noted the “somewhat diverse” range of sentences proposed by Crown and defence, plus his busy schedule, and adjourned the matter until Feb. 23.

Bergstad has already filed a civil lawsuit against Fields.