Truck driver sentenced in Alberta school bus crash that killed girl, 15

Fakiha Baig
·2 min read

EDMONTON — A man has been sentenced to six months in jail after a semi-truck he was driving rear-ended a school bus in northern Alberta, killing a 15-year-old girl.

Sukhdeep Deol pleaded guilty in an Edmonton courtroom Friday to a charge of careless driving.

Court heard it was foggy on the morning of March 7, 2018, when the bus turned south onto a road in Thorhild County, about 100 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.

It was then hit by Deol's truck, which was carrying a full load of gravel and had faulty brakes.

Maisie Watkinson died at the scene because of blunt force to her chest and abdomen.

"Words cannot describe the pain and suffering you have put my family through," the girl's mother, who gave her name as Candace, said to Deol as she read her victim impact statement in court.

There were 12 other children on the bus, court heard, including Maisie's older brother.

The mother said the boy tried to save his sister while they were on the bus. And to this day he continues to blame himself for her death.

"My son still has nightmares and has alienated himself from friends, stripping him of his childhood," she said.

"You've taken my happiness from this world and turned it into blackness."

The speed of both vehicles is unknown, court heard, but an investigation found that Deol knew his truck's brakes were not fully functional. He tried braking before the crash.

A statement of facts in the case said the bus driver should have made the turn when it was safer to do so.

Deol was initially charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death and criminal negligence causing death.

His lawyer, Jake Chadi, said the man has three children and understands the unbearable pain the victim's family is going through.

"I've spent hours talking to this man and he cries over and over again, wishing (he) could switch positions (with the victim) in a heartbeat," the lawyer told court.

"The heartache, thinking if it was his own son, is unbearable."

Chadi added that prior to the crash, Deol has never been in an accident, has no criminal record and has been regularly employed.

In addition to the jail time, Justice John Gill gave Deol two years of probation and 50 hours of community service. He must also pay a $2,000 donation to a charity of his choice.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 6, 2020.


This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press