A man was found guilty Monday (Dec. 13) in relation to a 2018 motorcycle crash in Abbotsford that killed a 19-year-old Maple Ridge woman.
Harrison Heth-Klems, 26, was convicted in B.C. Supreme Court in Abbotsford of dangerous driving causing the death of Megan Kinnee.
Sentencing will occur at a later date.
Justice Jennifer Duncan ruled that Heth-Klems’ driving on July 13, 2018 constituted “a marked departure from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have exercised in the same circumstances.”
Kinnee was a passenger on a 2000 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R being driven by Heth-Klems – her boyfriend at the time – when they crashed into the rear of a 2008 Lincoln Navigator occupied by six people.
Heth-Klems had been given a 20-month driving ban about a month before the collision, and he did not have a motorcycle licence. The motorcycle was owned by a friend, and Heth-Klems took it from an outbuilding without the owner’s permission, the judge said.
Duncan said Heth-Klems and Kinnee had gone out for dinner and afterwards were travelling east on South Parallel Road en route to a local park to watch the sunset.
A crash involving another motorcycle had occurred on Highway 1, which runs adjacent to South Parallel Road, and traffic had slowed on the freeway.
Witnesses testified that they saw the Navigator slow down, but the motorcycle was speeding while the two people on the bike turned to look at and point at the freeway collision.
Witnesses said the motorcycle did not slow down before crashing into the back of the Navigator near Cole Road.
The driver of the Navigator said he had slowed down when one of his passengers pointed out the crash on Highway 1. He said he was 200 to 300 metres away from the stop sign at that point, and he could see in his mirrors that a motorcycle was quickly approaching and that the two occupants had their heads turned to the left.
He tried to pull to the right so the bike could pass, but there was a ditch and he was unable to do so, the driver testified.
Expert testimony included a mechanic, who said the bike would have been in good mechanical condition before the collision, and an engineer, who said that because of the type of speedometer on the bike, the speed at which it was frozen was not accurate and had to be disregarded.
Duncan said surveillance video from a business 1.3 kilometres west of the crash scene was also analyzed and indicated that Heth-Klems was travelling about 120 km/hr – the speed limit was 80 km/hr – at the time he passed the camera on South Parallel Road.
Based on the expert and witness testimony, the judge concluded that Heth-Klems was going “not less than 100 km/hr” at the time of the crash.
She said it was a clear, sunny night, and there were no hazards that would have prevented Heth-Klems from seeing the Navigator ahead of him.
She said he “failed to maintain a proper lookout” when he took his eyes off the road ahead of him to look at the crash on Highway 1, was travelling at an “excessive speed” and should have known that he was clearly catching up to a slower-moving vehicle.
Duncan said a “reasonable driver” would have reacted appropriately and not taken their eyes off the road for the time that Heth-Klems did.
She ordered that a pre-sentencing report be completed, which is expected to take six to eight weeks.
The parties are due back in court Jan. 5 to check on the status of the report and to set the next court date.