An Abbotsford man may have been trying to commit suicide when his pickup truck crossed the centre line of Highway 7 near Deroche and collided with a Pontiac Sunfire, killing its driver and injuring a passenger, B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack heard Monday.
Ranjit Khatra survived the May 5, 2008 crash and has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm in connection with the accident, which killed 36-year-old Paul Sunday and injured his wife Elisa Parry.
During sentencing submissions Monday in Supreme Court in Chilliwack, the court heard that Khatra, 62, had called a family member an hour before the crash to say he was going to die and would no longer be a burden.
Just after 2 p.m. Khatra's GMC Sierra truck crossed the centre line of Highway 7 on a straight stretch of road. He continued driving westbound in the eastbound lane, towards oncoming traffic and Sunday's Harrison Hot Springs-bound car.
Sunday braked and headed for the shoulder, but was unable to avoid the oncoming truck.
Sunday died at the scene. Both his wife and Khatra were taken to hospital.
Crown counsel Carolyn Lawlor called Khatra's crime "dangerous driving by deliberate conduct" and asked for jail time of two years less a day.
But defence lawyer William Jessop said Khatra has suffered a stroke since the accident and continues to show signs of early-onset dementia and severe depression.
"Mr. Khatra's decision to engage in this driving pattern that day was largely influenced by a deteriorating mental state," Jessop said.
He warned that jail could cause Khatra's condition to continue to erode.
Jessop suggested his client might better be served by living in the community and being forced by the court to get help for his cognitive impairment and mental illness.
He said Khatra had expressed deep remorse and had personally said that "if he goes to jail he should stay there for a long time because the strictest sentence is not enough."
After the crash he told his family that he wanted to die.
Justice Neill Brown suggested prison might do some good for Khatra, who already lives in solitude and virtual self-imposed imprisonment in the basement of his son's home.
"What you're proposing is no change in his life, and he's not doing particularly well," Brown said.
Brown is to render his decision on Wednesday.