CORNWALL – A Williamstown man has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison after a high speed car crash in North Stormont two years ago that killed his passenger.
Kevin Gent, 26, had earlier pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in the July 2019 crash that killed 18-year-old Logan Sunday – also from South Glengarry.
Judge Deborah Kinsella says the circumstances are “among the most tragic imaginable” and that Gent showed “to put it mildly, extreme recklessness.”
During Tuesday’s sentencing, Kinsella recounted how Gent along with three friends and Sunday drove from the Cornwall area to a bar in Gatineau, Que. on July 19, 2019. Gent had “consumed alcohol and ingested cocaine while driving.” She said his driving was erratic and he sometimes veered into oncoming traffic while reaching speeds of 140 kilometers an hour.
Gent continued to drink at the bar until Sunday told the group it was time to go home but the other three passengers decided it was far too risky to drive home with Gent and found other ways to get home. “They asked Ms. Sunday to stay with them and get another ride home but she declined,” Kinsella said.
Early next morning (July 20, 2019), a couple driving along County Road 43 would find the car Gent was driving, badly damaged in a field between County Road 20 and Pigeon Hill Road in North Stormont around 4:30 a.m.. Gent survived the crash but is paralyzed from the waist down. Sunday was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Her cell phone was recovered and the last message she sent was about 1:15 that morning to, I believe it was her boyfriend, saying she was afraid and they were going ‘about 180 kilometers per hour,’” Kinsella stated.
Data recovered from the car showed it was travelling at 154 kilometers an hour on County Road 43 just before the collision. A blood sample taken from Gent detected alcohol and marijuana as well as the byproduct of cocaine. Kinsella says an expert report believes Gent’s blood-alcohol level was between 55 and 125 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood at 1:15 a.m. – the time Sunday sent the text message.
The court also heard victim impact statements from several members of Sunday’s family as well as friends and acquaintances.
A reverend at Logan’s church described her as having “strong family bonds” and was a “vivacious” young woman involved in the St. Andrews United Church Sunday school. A childhood friend and best friend of 10 years said “she was more than a best friend, she was like a sister to me.” One family member said Logan’s death was an “empty void in my life that cannot be filled.”
“You ripped the heart from the chest of so many family and friends,” said another.
Kinsella addressed the victim impact statements in her sentence.
“The victim impact statements…reveal to the extent possible that mere words can, the depth of the loss that Logan Sunday’s family and friends are feeling. Logan has a large circle of extended family and friends who love and miss her. She’s described by everyone as kind, generous, she loved animals, she loved blue Crocs, was a church and community volunteer and was just about to start the next phase of her life.”
Sunday had graduated from high school and was about to start a new job when her life was cut short. She was planning for post-secondary education, possibly in law. “Her life was an open book in front of her.”
When given the opportunity by Kinsella, Gent addressed Sunday’s family and friends.
“There’s no words or anything to say how sorry I am. I spent the last 17 or 18 months trying to think of the words or anything to tell you how sorry I am. I truly am sorry. I know I cause a lot of people a lot of pain. There’s nothing I can do or find to make this any better. I truly am sorry,” he said.
Judge Kinsella says there’s no evidence to suggest Gent has an alcohol or drug problem but there are “warning signs,” which Gent is willing to address while in prison.
She added that prior driving convictions including a 2017 conviction for careless driving “should have been a wake up call. It should have shown him that he was not taking seriously the responsibility of driving a motor vehicle.”
Both the Crown and defence agreed on a six-and-a-half year sentence as well as a 12-and-a-half year driving prohibition. In this case, there is no pre-sentence custody that would considered credit for time served.
The judge agreed that the punishment was reasonable. “I understand that this may not be the sentence that some of Ms. Sunday’s loved ones want or feel is enough. I don’t want them to think their views are being ignored and their voices are not being heard. This court cannot compensate them for their loss and no sentence this court could ever impose will ever make them feel whole.”
Defence lawyer Mark Wallace says Gent lives at home with his parents in Williamstown and had been doing construction jobs, mostly recently in Cornwall. With his “catastrophic injuries,” Gent will be looking to get some business education once he completes his sentence.