June 23rd, 2024

Foremost woman to be sentenced for impaired driving causing bodily harm

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on May 24, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A man and woman driving toward Lethbridge on Highway 4 a year ago made it to the city, but in an ambulance instead of their own car.

As the couple approached the intersection with Highway 61 north of the Village of Stirling at about 5 p.m. on April 30, 2023, a pick-up truck travelling east on Highway 4 turned left at the intersection and collided with the Mercedes Benz.

The pick-up truck flipped upside down, and the driver, Laura Esther Rumpel of Foremost, was extricated from the vehicle by emergency personnel. She was taken to the Chinook Regional Hospital in Lethbridge and treated for her injuries.

The couple in the other vehicle were also rushed to the hospital. The woman sustained broken ribs and still suffers chest and hip pain and has difficulty walking. Her spouse required surgery to install metal plates for a broken arm, and he still requires physical therapy and a cane to help him walk. He spent about three months in hospital following the collision.

A witness told police he saw the pick-up truck turn in front of the car without making any effort to stop or avoid the collision.

While investigating the collision, police saw an open can of beer about four metres from the truck and a case of beer that had spilled inside the cab of the truck. An officer also noted a strong smell of alcohol on Rumpel’s breath and other signs of impairment. A subsequent blood-alcohol test indicated her level was twice the legal limit.

Rumpel told police she was driving home following a wake at a bar in Lethbridge, and had consumed about seven drinks before leaving.

Rumpel pleaded guilty Thursday in Lethbridge court of justice to one count of impaired driving causing bodily harm. She wasn’t sentenced, however, and her matter was adjourned to Sept. 16 to allow time for the preparation of a pre-sentence report, which will provide the court with Rumpel’s personal circumstances and background to help determine a fit sentence.

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