Eileen Kleinfelder of Chilliwack was killed in a head-on crash on the Highway 11 bypass in Abbotsford in October 2012. The other driver, Michael Larocque, has now been sentenced. (Abbotsford News file photo)

B.C. driver gets 18 months for falling asleep and killing other driver in 2012

Crash resulted in death of Eileen Kleinfelder of Chilliwack

A man who fell asleep at the wheel and killed another driver in Abbotsford in 2012 has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Judge Kristen Mundstock said Monday in Abbotsford provincial court that Michael Larocque created a “devastating risk” to the public when he chose to drive and neglected to pull over when he started to nod off on Oct. 15, 2012.

Larocque, 49, crossed the centre line while driving in a cargo van on the Sumas Way/Highway bypass and crashed head-on into a 2012 Fiat being driven by Eileen Kleinfelder, 67, of Chilliwack.

Kleinfelder was pronounced dead at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Mundstock said that several months before the collision, Larocque sought medical advice for a “sleeping dysfunction” and was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

He told doctors that he would fall asleep “everywhere,” including in moving vehicles, Mundstock said.

She said this led to Larocque, a floor installer, to make arrangements for his work partner to drive. He also started using a CPAP machine – which helps people with sleep apnea breathe properly and get more-restful sleep – about a week before the crash, Mundstock said.

READ MORE: Man pleads guilty in relation to 2012 fatal head-on collision

READ MORE: Six years after fatal crash, family frustrated with court delays

But on the day of the crash, his partner didn’t show up and Larocque opted to drive himself to work.

EILEEN KLEINFELDER

Mundstock said Larocque started to nod off at the wheel and told himself he would pull over at the next “convenient spot,” but this never occurred.

“Mr. Larocque created a terrible risk making a decision to drive on Oct. 15, 2012. He gave his personal interests priority over the safety of the general public,” Mundstock.

She said it is concerning that after the crash, Larocque continued to drive and rack up further criminal charges.

In May 2017, he was charged with driving while prohibited after a police officer in Saanich on Vancouver Island pulled him over when he was driving erratically and crossing the centre line, Mundstock said.

The following month, also in Saanich, he was stopped at a police roadblock, and told the officer that his wallet was in the back of his vehicle.

He was instructed to pull over, but instead Larocque fled from the scene, leading to a three-kilometre pursuit by police. He then fled on foot after pulling into a driveway, but was soon arrested.

Mundstock said Larocque has a total of 59 entries on his driving record, as well as criminal convictions that include robbery, assault, uttering threats and breaching his court-ordered conditions.

She said these were among the aggravating factors that led her to sentence Larocque to 17 months for the charge of dangerous driving causing death in the fatal collision, 10 days for the May 2017 charge and 20 days for the June 2017 incident.

Prior to sentencing, Mundstock declined to approve Larocque’s application to withdraw his guilty plea.

READ MORE: Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Larocque was initially charged with criminal negligence causing death, but pleaded guilty in March 2018 to the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death.

A sentencing hearing took place, and the judge was set to give her ruling on the sentence on Aug. 20, 2018, when Larocque indicated that he wanted to revoke his guilty plea.

A hearing on the matter was held May 22 of this year, at which time Larocque said he no longer believed that he had committed a criminal act because he had not set out to intentionally hurt anyone on the day of the fatal crash.

Mundstock said the guilty plea would stand because, at the time he made it, it was “voluntary, informed and unequivocal.” He also did not take issue with the advice from the lawyer who was defending him at the time.

Mundstock said that Larcoque also did not prove there would be a miscarriage of justice against him if the guilty plea were to stand. She said he was well aware of his medical condition, and chose to drive anyway.

“The fact that Mr. Larocque regrets his decision – a decision that was made for valid reasons at the time – is not a sufficient reason for this court to permit the withdrawal of the guilty plea,” she said.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Vikki Hopes | Reporter

@VikkiHopes

Send Vikki an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Long-awaited Crofton road improvements finally happening

Paved shoulders on both sides will be a welcome addition

Ladysmith Little Theatre now showing The Dining Room

Opening night is Thursday, September 19 and the final performance is Sunday, October 6

New ratepayers association forming in Area H

Organization will advocate for North Oyster, Yellowpoint and Diamond District residents

Mrs. Warren’s Profession a delightful comedic romp

Chemainus Theatre Festival did not disappoint with their production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Campground on the chopping block as ALC deadline looms

Owners fighting to continue facility’s operation, with a huge outpouring of support

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

Break out the tiki torches: Open fires allowed again in B.C.’s coastal region

All open fires allowed effective at noon on Sept. 18

Vaping-related illness confirmed in Ontario believed to be first in Canada

Middlesex-London Health Unit had no further details about the case — believed to be the first confirmed in Canada

Canadian stars Virtue, Moir say in video they’re ‘stepping away’ from ice dancing

The pair thank fans for their support in an emotional message

Kamloops high school evacuated after receiving threat

Police have not released any further details into what the threat includes

Woman held at gunpoint during carjacking in UBC parkade

University RCMP say the vehicle is still missing, and two suspects are at large

VIDEO: Angry B.C. cyclist starts shaming dangerous drivers online

‘You motorists deserve all your costs and misery’

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Most Read