It hardly sounds like enough of a punishment or a message to the public about the security of vulnerable road users on provincial highways.
Today in Provincial Offences Court, a 26-year-old former Kitchener man now living in British Columbia was fined $1,000 for careless driving and $1,000 for driving with a suspended licence for the September 2010 death of 43-year-old Tiberiu David, who was struck from behind and killed while riding his bicycle in the bicycle lane on University Avenue in Waterloo.
Matthew Waltenberry was not in the courtroom on Queen Street in Kitchener. His laywer, Harold Cox, did all the talking for what was, in effect, a plea deal. Waltenberry pled guilty to two of the charges in the fatailty, while a third charge, or using a false driver's licence, was dropped. He also pled guilty to two additional charges of driving without a licence, for two random traffic stops in January 2011.
The penalty was $1,000 for each charge, for a total of $4,000. Because the charges are Highway Traffic Act offences, jail time was not in the cards.
There was some energy generated around the idea of putting Waltenberry on probation. Apparently, this isn't often done for Highway Traffic Act offences, especially for someone who has not previous record. The Justice of the Peace, Michael Cuthbertson, said that "a message needs to be sent to Mr. Waltenberry and the public at large" and thought that probation might be a message. Since Waltenberry was still driving while his licence was suspended (for unpaid fines) when he killed David, it was clear that "the last (suspension) did not deter him," said Cuthbertson.
The Crown attorney, Ralph Cotter, agreed that Waltenberry "took someone else's life while driving," and Cox agreed to the idea of probation, so a one-year term of probation was added.
The defence lawyer painted a bit of picture of the motorist: According to Cox, Waltenberry "went to pieces" after the Sept. 1, 2010 fatality. His health and wellness marketing magazine, Tri-City Trulife Magazine, foundered, and it was a five months later that he was twice driving while suspended on routine traffic stops. Waltenberry is now a manual labourer in B.C., living with his girlfriend.
About the actual cause of the accident or the impact of Tiberiu David's death on his family, the court heard nothing. Cotter said Waltenberry struck David "for reasons unknown," which is court-speak for "the investigators got nuthin." After the hearing, Cotter said that the family declined to submit a victim impact statement or appear in court.
No identifiable cause for the fatal collision, so not enough evidence to make any sort of Criminal Code charge stick, and thus, no incarceration. No family member to speak for the victim. The penalty is a series of fines, and a somewhat vague and possibly inconsequential term of probation.
So what is the message to the general public?
(Here's a link to The Record's reporting on the case.)