Loss felt every day
I am writing this letter to clarify some points in Mrs. (Penny) Reinecke's letter last week (Pique Jan.10), which I feel were inaccurate and also to shed some light (on it). I am the driver of the vehicle that killed Eleanor Reinecke at 3:09 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2011.
Firstly, it is true that I was speeding on that fateful night. I was travelling seven (7km/h) over the limit, which I admit was wrong of me. I never denied this, and I in fact told exactly this to the police during my first interrogation two days after the accident — way before the black box information was ever retrieved from the vehicle.
You can judge me for this as you wish, but otherwise I was faultless that night.
Now, that being said, with respect to my communications with the family, what was printed in last week's letter is absolutely false.
What Mrs. Reinecke failed to mention was that due to the fact that the investigation into the accident took the RCMP 11 months to complete, and that the Crown took another three and a half weeks to decide against pressing charges, I was pretty much gagged for this period of time. My ticket was issued 363 days after the accident.
Anyone who has even a basic understanding of law knows that while you are under police investigation, for any reason, you DO NOT CORRESPOND with the other side ... without a lawyer, one of which I thankfully never had. I sincerely regret this circumstance and it bothered me constantly.
What was also omitted from Mrs. Reinecke's letter was that when she and her family requested a face-to-face meeting with me on the first anniversary of the accident I accepted without any hesitation. Given the fact that I couldn't write them at that time, it was the least I could do. The RCMP was shocked. They told me it was so rare that Sgt. (Shawn) LeMay even requested my approval to sit in on the meeting to learn from it for the future.
During this meeting, which was about an hour long, we talked about many things, including the circumstances of the accident. It was the hardest thing I've ever done, and the whole experience absolutely broke my heart. Even after one family member told me that he wishes I was "in jail" and that I "should have gone into the headlights" of the oncoming car, I offered to give them all of my contact information to set up a correspondence. I also made very clear that I deeply regretted, probably more than anything else, not having written them sooner.
They accepted, and it was agreed, that I would pass this information to Sgt. LeMay after the meeting who would then pass it on to them. I did so, but that was the last I heard from Mrs. Reinecke until last week's Pique.