Judge sends driver in fatal 2018 Kent County crash to jail for a year

·3 min read
Danielle Lortz and her husband Greg enter the Moncton courthouse Thursday before she was sentenced to one year in jail for dangerous driving causing the death of Ryan Ward in 2018.  (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
Danielle Lortz and her husband Greg enter the Moncton courthouse Thursday before she was sentenced to one year in jail for dangerous driving causing the death of Ryan Ward in 2018. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

An Acadieville woman has been sentenced to a year in jail for dangerous driving causing the death of a 27-year-old man in 2018.

Danielle Lortz, 37, was also prohibited from driving and placed on probation for five years.

The vehicle driven by Lortz crossed the centre line of Route 116 near Elsipogtog First Nation on Feb. 22, 2018. She crashed head-on with a vehicle driven by Ryan Ward, who was on his way to work at Tim Hortons in Richibucto.

A jury found her guilty of the charge in December.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Jean-Paul Ouellette sentenced Lortz on Thursday, saying jail time was the appropriate sentence to deter others from driving dangerously.

The judge noted there was no explanation offered for why Lortz crossed the yellow line that morning in ideal driving conditions. He said alcohol or drugs were not involved.

Ouellette said witnesses saw Lortz driving erratically earlier that day. Lortz says she has no memory of what happened leading up to the crash.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Sharlyn Ward, Ryan's mother, told reporters after the sentencing that they accept the judge's sentencing decision.

"I'm happy with what the judge decided," Ryan's sister Jessica Ward said. "It could have gone either way. You can't kill someone and get away with it, so I'm happy with what she got."

Fred Ward said he sees too many drivers taking risks, crossing solid yellow lines and passing people on corners. He hopes those drivers think of the others they could harm.

"When her year is up, she'll return [to her family], but our son won't," he said of Lortz.

On Wednesday, Jessica Ward read four victim impact statements from herself and other family members to the judge. They outlined the continuing toll Ward's death has had on the family.

Lortz had no previous criminal record. She had two previous tickets for speeding and another crash on her driving record.

Crown prosecutor Patrick McGuinty had sought up to two years in jail as well as a five year driving prohibition to deter others from driving dangerously.

McGuinty declined to comment on the judge's decision while leaving the courthouse Thursday.

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

James Matheson, Lortz's defence lawyer, said the sentence was what they expected.

Matheson was asked if he saw any possibility of appeal.

"I'll leave that to them, the family to decide," Matheson said. "I think we're all emotionally exhausted, so I'll step away - if somebody else wants to look at that, I'll leave that to somebody else."

The judge dismissed an application by the defence challenging the constitutionality of a provision in the Criminal Code of Canada that barred Lortz from receiving a conditional sentence.

The defence had argued she should be able to serve her sentence at home to care for her four children with autism.

"I conclude that such a sentence would not be appropriate," Ouellette said in his decision about a conditional sentence.

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