Torontonian gets 10 months for playing “Russian Roulette” on the road

By David F. Rooney

A Toronto man, Soleyman Shakib, was sentenced to 10 months in jail today for his part in a 2007 motor vehicle accident that killed one person and left two others badly injured.

“Mr. Shakib chose to pass a line of vehicles on a road that was in very poor condition,” Crown Prosecutor Greg Koturbash told Provincial Court Judge Mark Takahashi. “In short, he played Russian Roulette with the other people on the road.”

Koturbash said the 46-year-old Shakib was an experienced truck driver with a good driving record and no convictions when he decided at about 10:30 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 17, 2007, to pass a line of vehicles on a snow-covered stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke and Sicamous.

However, he lost control of his rig, which hit an SUV and a van. Andrew Kennedy and his wife Sally and Michael Bowring were seriously hurt . They were taken to Revelstoke’s Queen Victoria Hospital where it was determined that Andrew Kennedy’s injuries were life-threatening. He was medevaced to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops but died on the pad as the helicopter landed.

“I remember the accident,” Sally Kennedy said in a Victim Impact Statement that was read into the court record. “There was little Andrew could do. Andrew’s last words were: ‘It’s going to hit us.’ I said, ‘I know.'”

Shakib sat silently beside defence lawyer Chris Johnston as Koturbash read Kennedy’s quietly emotional but dignified statement. She lost not only her husband of 20 years but the man with whom she had hoped to become a Canadian citizen. She and Andrew were citizens of the United Kingdom and had come to Canada to work in Alberta. He had a work visa but she was in the country as a dependent. With her husband’s demise, she cannot work because she does not have a work permit and her hopes of becoming a Canadian citizen appear to be doomed.

Koturbash asked that Shakib, who had pled guilty to the charge of dangerous driving causing death, be sentenced to 12 to 18 months behind bars with a three-to-five-year driving prohibition. He also asked that he be compelled to provide a DNA sample to the National DNA Data Bank.

In his submission to the court Johnston said that Shakib has always accepted full responsibility for the accident and remains haunted every day by his memory of the accident.

As a professional truck driver he travelled about 120,000 kilometres a year and had no record of bad driving. Indeed, a retired police officer who had been behind Shakib for some time prior to his fateful decision to pass the line of cars told investigators that Shakib appeared to be driving normally.

The event has not just damaged the survivors of the accident, but has even reached across the ocean to Iran where Shakib’s aged parents were the recipients of financial assistance from their truck driver son. Now that assistance has evaporated as he cannot drive professionally and will be facing time in jail.

Judge Takahashi said it appeared to him that Shakib “was so intent on passing that he denied the possibility that someone would come along.”

He sentenced Shakib to 10 months in jail and prohibited him from driving for three years. He also ordered him to surrender a DNA sample to the National DNA Data Bank.