May 28th, 2024

Driver sentenced to three years for leaving scene of deadly collision


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 11, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 21-year-old southern Alberta man who killed his friend two years ago when he drove into a tree 10 days before Christmas, has been sent to a federal penitentiary.
Tristan Joel Big Sorrel Horse was sentenced Monday in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench to three years in prison for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and for driving while prohibited.
Big Sorrel Horse, who pleaded guilty to the charges last September, two weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial, had been drinking with his friends at a hotel bar in Fort Macleod on Dec. 14, 2019. Nearly three hours later Big Sorrel Horse and Andre Big Snake, aka, Weasel Moccasin, got into a car and Big Sorrel Horse drove away, reaching speeds of nearly 100 km/h as they sped through Fort Macleod.
Big Sorrel Horse lost control of the vehicle, drove into an embankment and struck a tree. He left Big Snake in the vehicle and walked 100 meters to a convenience store where he made several telephone calls, but none to 911 or the hospital.
After friends with whom he had been drinking arrived at the convenience store, Big Sorrel Horse told them he had been in an accident, and said Big Snake was okay. However, he couldn’t remember where the collision occurred, and after driving around to look, his friends took him home.
Just after 2:30 a.m. RCMP drove by the site, saw smoke coming from the vehicle, and found Big Snake dead in the front passenger seat.
Police searched for Big Sorrel Horse for a week before he turned himself in on Dec. 22 and he was arrested and charged.
“The accused stayed hidden from police for a week, while Andre’s family grieved and wanted to find out what happened,” Crown Prosecutor Lisa Weich explained during Monday’s sentencing hearing.
Big Snake’s father read victim impact statements written by himself and his mother, who helped raise her grandson, but died last May from cancer.
“Andre was taken from us so tragically,” his grandmother wrote.
She said Big Sorrel Horse did not have the decency to call for help, but left his friend to die in the car.
“The driver will serve time but he will be released. He will experience life, a life that Andre was cheated out of.”
Big Snake’s father cried as he described the loss he feels from his son’s death, and said no amount of jail time Big Sorrel Horse serves will make him feel better.
“Time does not heal anything, instead it teaches us how to live with the pain,” he said.
Big Sorrel Horse told court he chose to take responsibility for his actions, and apologized to Big Snake’s family, many of whom sat in the courtroom.
“It was never my intention to hurt Andre,” he said. “I wish it was him that made it out of that car, not me. I can’t tell you why I left him, because I don’t even know why myself. If I was in my right mind I can tell you none of this would have happened.”
In addition to his prison sentence, Big Sorrel Horse will be prohibited from driving for five years after he is released.

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