Nine months jail for Highway 97 crash

The man responsible for a collision near Vaseux Lake in 2017 which caused severe injuries to multiple people is spending nine months in jail.

Silous Paul, 22, pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving. He was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton Friday.

According to witnesses, Paul was driving erratically on Highway 97 on the morning of July 21, 2017, weaving between lanes and driving at high speed before rounding the sharp corner near Vaseux Lake in the oncoming lane and crashing into a truck with four occupants.

Paul was grief stricken and heading north to Penticton after hearing of his cousin’s suicide that morning, court heard.

A total of six people, including Paul and a family member who was in the vehicle with him at the time, suffered injuries in the crash. One of the victims of the crash is now quadriplegic requiring full-time care from her husband who was also in the vehicle Paul hit at the time of the incident.

The four occupants of the truck struck by Paul’s vehicle had to be extracted with the jaws of life and suffered myriad injuries including a cracked sternum, broken ribs and whiplash. Paul suffered injuries as well, but told the court they were minor compared to the injuries suffered by others.

Paul, who was 19 years old and a new driver at the time, had been drinking the night prior to the incident and had a blood alcohol level of 0.174. He was travelling somewhere between 55 and 82 km/h at the time of the collision.

“I did a thoughtless act that did a great deal of harm to these other people. I am sincerely, sincerely sorry for all this damage I’ve caused to these victims. I’ve learned my lesson I’m not going to repeat anything like this ever again … it’s very hard … it’s very hard. I’m sorry,” Paul said prior to his sentence being handed down Friday.

The son of the woman who is now a quadriplegic as a result of the incident read aloud one of the six victim impact statements court heard during the sentencing hearing Friday.

“It’s hard to explain the mental and physical toll you go through when you answer a phone call expecting to finalize plans for a visit with your parents and instead of just getting the standard ‘we’re good, how’re you guys?’ you hear extreme fear and sadness in your dad’s voice as he tells you we’ve been in a terrible vehicle collision and he doesn’t know if your mom is going to make it,” he said.

Paul, a former Osoyoos Indian Band youth ambassador, has previously worked with the Okanagan Nation Alliance in helping recover salmon populations in the area. He has no prior criminal record.

Paul had five letters of support and multiple supporters in court Friday during his sentencing including his grandmother, step mother and Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie.

Paul was sentenced to nine months jail time, and one year of probation following his release from custody as well as a three-year driving prohibition. The sentencing judge also ordered to pay reparations of $ 150 a month for one year to the woman who is a quadriplegic as a result of the incident, and to watch a “day in the life” video created by the family of the woman injured severely in the crash.