Driver gets house arrest for killing senior

A Yukon judge says the driver who killed a senior last year should never have been behind the wheel. Keith Ramage was given a three-month conditional sentence in March. The written decision was only released last week.

A Yukon judge says the driver who killed a senior last year should never have been behind the wheel.

Keith Ramage was given a three-month conditional sentence in March. The written decision was only released last week.

In Feb. 2014, Ramage was behind the wheel when he struck and killed 69-year-old William Lagimodiere in downtown Whitehorse.

He pleaded guilty to failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and driving without due care and attention.

According to Yukon territorial court judge John Faulkner’s decision, on Feb. 26, 2014, at approximately 11:19 a.m., Ramage was driving north on Fourth Avenue in clear, dry conditions.

Between Ray and Baxter streets there is a pedestrian crosswalk marked with worn white lines and crosswalk signs mounted on poles on either side of the road. Lights flash when someone hits a button.

Lagimodiere pushed the button and waited for traffic to clear before he started to cross. The judge says the sun that day would have made it difficult for Ramage to see the flashing lights.

“When Mr. Lagimodiere had reached the outside or easternmost northbound lane, he was struck by Mr. Ramage’s vehicle.”

He later died.

There is no evidence that Ramage hit his breaks or did anything to try and stop the crash, the judge said.

He was going about 10 km over the speed limit for the construction zone but “had more than ample time to see the deceased, react, and stop,” Faulkner wrote.

Ramage told the police that he had been looking to the side, and when he looked back at the road, the pedestrian was right in front of him.

Ramage has a long medical history that would have impacted his ability to drive, the judge said. “Some of the issues, in fact, impact on his hearing and vision and would undoubtedly have consequences with respect to his operation of a vehicle.

“As well, the pain medications that he is currently on may, as well, affect his ability to concentrate and react to situations when he’s driving.”

In the mid-1990s Ramage’s licence was disqualified but eventually reinstated.

“It also develops that around 2005, Mr. Ramage’s employer became concerned about Mr. Ramage’s ability to operate machinery and drive a motor vehicle as his job required. Apparently there had been a number of what were termed “near misses,” the judge said.

Tests were done and found that he was making “attention-related errors” in his driving.

He didn’t lose his licence but did lose his job in 2007 “due to these and perhaps other difficulties,” the judge said.

He has previous convictions for failing to yield, following too close, and unsafe backing.

In the month before Lagimodiere’s death Ramage was involved in two other crashes, at least one of which was clearly his fault, Faulkner wrote.

“In hindsight, it is clear that there were issues and that Mr. Ramage should not have been driving a motor vehicle.”

Both the Crown and defence suggested a conditional sentence order of two to three months to be followed by 12 to 18 months of probation.

The judge went with the high end of both of those ranges.

Faulkner said the “sentence is certainly squarely within the range” of careless driving sentences in the Yukon.

“Since the defendant did not actually intend any harm, cases of careless driving are certainly not comparable to those where a death is caused by a murderer or even a reckless driver,” the judge said.

Still, it is important to take Lagimodiere’s death into consideration, he said.

For his three-month sentence, Ramage would have been under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Then he would be on probation for 18 months. He cannot drive for that time.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

ashleyj@yukon-news.com

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