On June 9, the Yukon Territorial Court passed sentence on Devin Edmiston who caused a fatal collision on the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News)

On June 9, the Yukon Territorial Court passed sentence on Devin Edmiston who caused a fatal collision on the Alaska Highway near Whitehorse. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News)

Manitoba man gets nearly 5 years for fatal car crash near Whitehorse

The July 2020 collision killed Whitehorse resident Travis Adams as well as Nicole Sanderson

The Yukon Territorial Court sentenced the man who caused a fatal collision near Whitehorse in 2020 to almost five years behind bars.

On June 9, Judge Gurmail Gill read the sentence for Devin Edmiston, who caused the July 5, 2020 collision on the Alaska Highway that killed Travis Adams and Nicole Sanderson and also severely injured Zachary McCutcheon. Adams was riding his motorcycle and Sanderson and McCutcheon were passengers in the car that Edmiston, who has never held a driver’s license, was operating. Edmiston attempted an illegal pass over double-solid lines at speeds exceeding 130 km/h causing the fatal collision.

Edmiston was arrested and charged almost a year after the collision. He went on to plead guilty to two counts of dangerous operation of a conveyance causing death and one count of dangerous operation causing bodily harm in November 2022.

The court heard sentencing submissions from the crown and from Edmiston’s defence on May 17 and 18. More than 30 victim impact statements were filed with the court, several were read by their authors or other representatives accompanying the submissions from the lawyers. The crown sought a term of between four and six years imprisonment for each of the fatalities and two or three years for the bodily harm with these sentences to be served concurrently. Edmiston’s defence asked the judge to order a two-year term of imprisonment followed by three years of probation.

Gill outlined his reasons for his sentence, first repeating the facts of the case and then comparing them to other fatal car crashes and the sentences imposed on those who caused them. He said the circumstances here put Edmiston on the high end of moral blameworthiness for the deadly outcome of the collision.

“He demonstrated a high degree of disregard for life,” Gill said.

The judge added that Edmiston’s actions amount to a “determined effort in the face of significant risk,” but stopped short of finding that his flying pass of the vehicle containing members of Sanderson’s family amounted to racing or a contest of speed as the crown had argued. The court also heard that Edmiston had been ticketed for speeding in Manitoba only two months before the collision near Whitehorse.

Mitigating circumstances Gill noted included the abuse Edmiston suffered in childhood and his subsequent difficulty maintaining employment and participating in society. The judge also noted Edmiston’s full compliance with bail conditions and the personal progress he made volunteering with a community outreach group in the Manitoba town where he was awaiting trial. Edmiston’s guilty pleas were also found mitigating.

Gill also took heed of the “crippling and enduring impacts” the collision has had on the victims.

“The words of the victims, all of them, speak now of living in a completely different reality,” he said.

Gill ultimately imposed a concurrent sentence of four years and 10 months for each of the deaths Edmiston’s driving caused that accounts for the 41 days Edmiston is credited for due to pretrial custody. The sentence of two years and five months the judge imposed for the bodily harm charge will also be served concurrently. Accounting for the time Edmiston was prohibited from driving while on bail, Gill imposed an additional three-year prohibition to begin after the prison term.

The judge endorsed the possibility of Edmiston serving his sentence in Manitoba to improve his chances for rehabilitation when released.

Contact Jim Elliot at jim.elliot@yukon-news.com