Schmidt found not guilty after second trial

Michael Schmidt, the driver behind the wheel in a rollover that paralyzed a Whitehorse woman, has been found not guilty of two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Michael Schmidt, the driver behind the wheel in a rollover that paralyzed a Whitehorse woman, has been found not guilty of two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

In Yukon Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Stephen Hillier ruled that the evidence did not prove the criminal standard of impairment beyond a reasonable doubt.

Schmidt was originally convicted of the two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm in 2011. The Yukon Court of Appeal later heard the case and ordered a retrial.

On Dec.14, 2009, Schmidt, Jessica Frotten and Michael Sanderson were driving the Alaska Highway on their way to Haines Junction.

Near mile marker 1466, the car rolled and Frotten and Sanderson were thrown. Both were injured. Frotten suffered a spinal cord injury and is now a paraplegic.

A breathalyzer given to Schmidt about three hours after the crash showed readings of 0.07.

Schmidt, 32, has insisted he hit a frost heave on the road and lost control.

Hillier said there’s no question Schmidt is at fault. “He drank and he drove.”

But in this case there was not enough to prove impaired driving causing bodily harm, the judge said.

The question was whether or not Schmidt was impaired, and if that impairment was enough to affect his driving and cause the crash and the injuries.

Schmidt has admitted to drinking the night before the crash, and having some coffee with Baileys liqueur in the morning.

That afternoon, Schmidt, Sanderson and Frotten had lunch at the Airport Chalet where they shared a pitcher of beer and ate lunch, the court heard.

They then went to Yukon Brewery where Schmidt may have had a sample of beer.

In total, Hillier estimated Schmidt had less than 30 ounces of beer in his system on the afternoon of the crash.

That amount of alcohol alone is not enough to infer Schmidt was impaired, he said.

The judge noted neither the waitress at the restaurant nor the staff at the brewery saw anything in Schmidt’s behaviour to cause concern or make them think he was impaired.

Schmidt also reacted calmly immediately after the crash. He helped his friends and flagged down passing vehicles, Hillier said.

Schmidt admitted to speeding but says he slowed down during parts of the drive.

The judge noted that frost heaves are common on the Alaska Highway and that there were frost heaves at the accident scene.

He ruled Schmidt had been speeding, but said there wasn’t sufficient evidence to determine exactly how fast he was going at the time.

When the verdict was announced, Schmidt hugged supporters in the room before leaving.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

During our recent conversation, John Nicholson showed me snapshots of his time working on the Yukon riverboats 70 years ago. (Michael Gates)
History Hunter: Yukon man relives the riverboat days after seven decades

John Nicholson took summer work on Yukon steamers in the 1950s

NDP candidate Annie Blake, left, and Liberal incumbent Pauline Frost. (Submitted photos)
Official recount confirms tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin riding

Both candidates Pauline Frost and Annie Blake are still standing with 78 votes each

Artist’s rendering of a Dairy Queen drive-thru. At its April 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved a zoning change to allow a drive-thru at 107 Range Road. Developers sought the change to build a Dairy Queen there. (Submitted)
Drive-thru approved by Whitehorse city council at 107 Range Road

Rezoning could pave the way for a Dairy Queen


Wyatt’s World for April 14, 2021.… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Two new cases of COVID-19 variant identified in territory

“If variants were to get out of control in the Yukon, the impact could be serious.”

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Most Read