A police officer places evidence markers on the Alaska Highway near the blue bridge at the scene of the collision on July 5, 2020. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)

A police officer places evidence markers on the Alaska Highway near the blue bridge at the scene of the collision on July 5, 2020. (Jackie Hong/Yukon News file)

Guilty driver files details of 2020 Alaska Highway crash to the court

The court has accepted guilty plea

The territorial court has accepted the guilty plea of Devin Edmiston, the driver charged in the 2020 Alaska Highway crash that killed two people.

The collision claimed the lives of 43-year-old Travis Adams, who was riding his motorcycle, and 47-year-old Nicole Sanderson, who was Edmiston’s passenger and his girlfriend.

Edmiston, now 27, takes responsibility for the accident in the joint admissions of fact, which were filed with the court and read out on March 3. Edmiston already pleaded guilty on Nov. 8, 2022.

At the time of the accident, Edmiston was unlicensed and driving in an unfamiliar place when he attempted to pass a car around a blind corner, according to his counsel’s summarization in court on March 3.

Edmiston, who is from Winnipeg, was visiting Sanderson’s family and friends in Whitehorse in June 2020. The couple was on a day trip to Army Beach with Sanderson’s two daughters, her grandson and her grandson’s father.

Edmiston was driving Sanderson’s car, with Sanderson in the back seat and her grandson’s father, who was 22 at the time, in the front passenger seat. His front passenger described Edmiston as “driving very fast, playing loud music, and talking,” according to the admission.

Sanderson’s daughters and grandson were in a second vehicle ahead of them.

On the Alaska Highway, Edmiston moved into the oncoming lane to try and overtake the second vehicle. Both cars were driving upwards of 130 km/h on the descending curve towards the Lewes River Bridge.

The admissions say his front passenger “became uncomfortable and voiced his concern,” but Edmiston didn’t hear him.

Two oncoming vehicles then appeared over the hill and “took action” to avoid a collision with Edmiston.

Edmiston tried to move back into his lane, but collided with the front driver’s-side door of the car he was trying to pass, which sent Edmiston’s car spinning along the oncoming lane. He then collided with Travis Adams on his motorcycle, who was driving behind the two oncoming vehicles.

Adams died instantly upon impact, the admission says.

Edmiston’s car rolled over and came to rest off the highway’s shoulder. Sanderson died from blunt force trauma injuries inside the car.

The admission says Sanderson’s daughters and grandson appeared at the scene immediately from the second car, and all three were uninjured. Her grandson’s father suffered severe spinal injuries, which were treated in Vancouver and preceded long-term rehabilitation.

Adams’ wife and three children also arrived on the scene almost immediately, as they were following Adams’ motorcycle in a car when the accident happened.

Edmiston suffered a fracture to his upper jaw area and a bruised face. He was treated in Whitehorse before returning home to Manitoba.

The admissions say no mechanical failure contributed to the incident, nor was Edmiston impaired.

Two months prior to the accident, Edmiston was stopped by RCMP in Manitoba and ticketed for speeding and driving an unregistered vehicle.

“Mr. Edmiston admits that his driving pattern … demonstrates conduct amounting to a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe,” the admission concludes.

“Edmiston also admits that his driving pattern caused the deaths of Mr. Adams and Ms. Sanderson.”

Edmiston’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 17.

Contact Gabrielle Plonka at gabrielle.plonka@yukon-news.com