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Driver should serve 3 years after killing 2 UBC students: Crown

Tim Goerner awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death

The man who killed two University of British Columbia students in a high-speed crash sobbed in court as the mother of one of his victims described her grief as “woven into my DNA.”

Tim Goerner was originally charged with two counts of impaired driving causing the deaths of Evan Smith and Emily Selwood, both 18.

He pleaded guilty last month to two counts of dangerous driving causing death.

Smith’s mother, Debbie O’Day-Smith, told the sentencing hearing in Richmond provincial court on Monday that her son was adventurous and made “an indelible mark on everyone he met.”

“I don’t doubt he would’ve made a difference in this world,” she said. “I miss everything about him.”

Smith had been accepted into every school he’d applied for, but chose the University of B.C. because it was a place he felt he could grow the most, she said.

“You robbed me of my baby, my little boy,” she said, addressing Goerner across the courtroom. “If you are remorseful, prove it.”

She urged him to watch her son’s funeral service online and said she expects “truth and accountability” from the young man.

Crown prosecutor Daniel Pruim said Goerner had alcohol in his system when he killed Smith and Selwood, and a joint submission from the Crown and the defence said Goerner should serve three years in jail, with a driving prohibition of five years.

The court heard Goerner, an international student at the university, was drinking alcohol at a party the night of Sept. 25, 2021.

Early the next morning he was driving on campus at speeds between 100 and 120 kilometres an hour in a 40-kilometre zone.

Goerner hit a street lamp, then a boulder and his vehicle became airborne before running down the victims from behind.

Both Smith and Selwood were pronounced dead at the scene.

Goerner, dressed in a grey suit, sat in court with his head down, crying as he listened to victim impact statements from those who loved the teens.

Selwood’s father, Duncan Selwood, told the court that their world “fell apart” the day of her death.

He said the emotional toll was like being “electrocuted” by jolts of fear, disbelief, sadness, anger and guilt that “knocked me to the ground.”

He said he can barely sleep since his daughter’s death, and words of encouragement from others about things getting better or easier are unhelpful.

“They’re all wrong,” he said. “Hearing these words makes me so angry.”

He said he can no longer interact with people, telling the court that his daughter’s death will “forever torment me.”

“I’m in this bad place because of Tim Goerner,” he said, adding that any words of apology would be “insulting,” “empty,” or “meaningless.”

“I hope this weighs on his soul,” he said. “I hope Tim Goerner’s time in prison is hard.”

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