A Nanaimo mother was cleared Friday of impaired and dangerous driving charges stemming from a December 2008 crash that killed her two sons.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Douglas Halfyard found Clare Bekkers not guilty of two counts of impaired driving causing death, two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, two counts of dangerous driving causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
“I’m just really glad it’s over,” said an emotional Bekkers outside the courthouse, who was quickly led away by her father. “I’d like to just go home.”
The crash happened Dec. 22, 2008 at about 4:20 p.m. in the southbound lane of the Island Highway near the Cassidy Inn. Bekkers, driving northbound on the highway in a Ford Escape SUV, crossed the centre line into oncoming traffic, triggering a multi-car collision that killed her two sons and injured her two daughters.
Halfyard found that while it was proven her manner of driving fell below the standard of a reasonable driver, and was objectively dangerous, he was not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that her driving was a marked departure from the standard of a reasonable driver.
He also found the Crown failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bekkers’s ability to operate a vehicle was impaired by alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash.
Her lawyer, Bert King, said the past three years have been horrendous for Bekkers.
“She’s happy to have it over,” he said. “She’ll be grieving for the rest of her life.”
King said it was a case that had to be pursued, given the deaths, injuries and property damage that resulted from the crash, and reiterated his argument that black ice was to blame for the crash.
“No one expected black ice,” he said.
Crown counsel Frank Dubenski said it’s too early to say if the Crown will appeal the decision.
“This was a tough case,” he said. “We knew that it was going to be an uphill battle.”