A man with two prior suspensions related to alcohol will serve 15-months in jail after hitting a cyclist while driving impaired.
Steven Troy Fields, 29, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing bodily harm and failure to stop at the scene of an accident that took place in Osoyoos in 2014. He was also handed 21 months of probation and a three-year ban from operating a motor vehicle in Canada.
Fields admitted to being behind the wheel of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that hit Joshua Bergstad around 10 p.m. on May 29, 2014. He told RCMP he didn’t see the cyclist until it was too late. However, multiple witnesses, including two women who were in the vehicle with Fields, offered information to the police contrary to Fields’ statements.
Bergstad suffered fractures to his spine and ribs, a tear in his left ear, as well as multiple abrasions to his body as the result of being hit and dragged under the vehicle for approximately three metres. He was sent to Penticton Regional Hospital for X-rays and then to Kelowna General Hospital for surgery.
Fields previously admitted to police that he didn’t stop at the scene because he didn’t know first aid. Judge Brad Chapman said many people don’t know first aid, however their first reaction is to stop and assist, including one of the female passengers in Fields’ vehicle who urged him to stop.
It was also discovered by police that Fields tried to purchase alcohol from two separate liquor stores prior to the incident. Staff refused him service at the first store saying he looked like he was “on something.”
“In my view, Mr. Fields was likely more concerned about him being, quote, in his own words, ‘completely hammered’ and that he couldn’t function,” said Chapman.
Chapman also noted that the front license plate on Fields’ vehicle was dislodged from the collision and left at the scene, and that Fields later attempted to get a new plate saying his had been stolen. Chapman said this was further evidence that the driver was looking out for his own interests. Fields has two prior 24-hour driving suspensions related to alcohol from 2009 and 2010.
Defence counsel Kathyrn Lundman was seeking a conditional sentence in her submissions, while Crown prosecutor John Swanson said Fields’ actions are “morally reprehensible.”
“The concept of giving a conditional sentence bothers me more than the concept that the sentence being served concurrently,” Swanson said.
He added that a conditional sentence, or house arrest, isn’t viewed as significant of a deterrent by the general public.
Bergstad was present in the courtroom for the sentencing, but declined to comment.