A Chilliwack man has been sentenced to six and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to four charges in connection with a collision that killed a Maple Ridge motorcyclist in 2017.
Laura Jeglum-Woycheshen, a 48-year-old Maple Ridge mother and grandmother, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, died in the head-on collision on Sept. 14 of that year.
She was riding on Lougheed Highway, near 280th Street, with a group of friends, on her way back from dinner when the collision occurred.
Ryan Gerald Lowe, 34, pleaded guilty in October to charges of impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm to two others, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and public mischief for reporting a theft of a vehicle, when none had occurred.
He was sentenced Thursday in Port Coquitlam provincial court.
Lowe was given five years for impaired driving causing death and one year for impaired driving causing bodily harm, as well as three more for leaving the scene of an accident and public mischief.
Justice Patricia Janzen, however, speaking barely audibly, reduced the total sentence to 6.5 years, noting that Lowe had excellent prospects for rehabilitation. An eight-year driving prohibition was also ordered.
“It’s a fair sentence for what it is, but nothing justifies losing your mother,” son Jesse Woycheshen said outside the provincial courthouse after the sentencing.
The case has affected the whole family, added brother Rob Jeglum, who said he worries about future accidents.
“It’s always going through your brain after been through something like this.”
Asked what he misses most about his mom, Rob said her laugh.
“Her laugh was one of a kind,” he said.
Someone else said she’d ask her sons, “What’s wrong with you?
“But no matter what you did, my mom was always behind us,” Rob added.
Laura’s brother, Brent Jeglum, said: “At the end, he’ll [Lowe] get to see his family again, and for us, we never will.”
Lowe, from Chilliwack and born in 1984, initially faced eight charges. He pleaded guilty to the four counts.
Jeglum-Woycheshen was travelling westbound on the road at the time of the collision, just before 9 p.m. Two other people, also on motorcycles were seriously injured, but survived. Court heard they have not been on a motorcycle since.
In sentencing, Janzen said that Lowe had “drank steadily for many hours” in a Port Coquitlam bar and that witnesses said he was driving erratically with blown tires and veering into the oncoming lane.
“This was not a [case] of a small mistake with horrific consequences,” she said.
Court heard he was going through family problems and had recently separated from his wife.
“He’s not a hardened criminal … but a good man who made a terrible mistake,” Janzen said.
She said that Lowe had an “exceptionally difficult childhood.
“Substance abuse has always been a part of his life.”
Character letters were also submitted in support of Lowe.
However, the judge noted the 12 impact statements that detailed how the loss of Woycheshen affected them.
The letters are “full of pain and grief of losing Laura,” said the judge.
A five-month investigation led officers across multiple jurisdictions, including Maple Ridge, Mission and Chilliwack.
Rob Jeglum said previously the case has prolonged the suffering for the family, members of which are trying to go through the grieving process.
He also said that his mom was “a very loving person,” who loved riding her motorcycle and was known for bringing the family together.