HAMILTON — It was a tragedy that could and should have been avoided, but after almost two years, the families of Yegwenya (Gwen) Delta Rayne Martin, 18, and William (Will) Randy Harris, 15, have some semblance of closure. The two Six Nations young people were killed and a third teen, Adam Roy Todd Bain, 19,
HAMILTON — It was a tragedy that could and should have been avoided, but after almost two years, the families of Yegwenya (Gwen) Delta Rayne Martin, 18, and William (Will) Randy Harris, 15, have some semblance of closure.
The two Six Nations young people were killed and a third teen, Adam Roy Todd Bain, 19, was severely injured when Travis Squire-Hill crashed his wife’s pick-up truck into an ATV and a dirt bike on Forth Line Road at Tuscarora Road in 2012, and then fled the seen, leaving the teens to die on the side of the road.
The verdict was read by Justice James Turnbull last week to a packed Hamilton courtroom filled with friends and family of the victims.
Travis Squire-Hill was initially charged with criminal negligence causing death, but was found not guilty of that charge. There was an audible gasp from the gallery when they heard the words, “not guilty” spoken by the Judge. But Justice Turnbull instead convicted Squire-Hill of a series of lesser charges, and explained why he could not find, beyond reasonable doubt, that Squire-Hill was intoxicated at the time of the crash, since he left the scene and was only picked up by Six Nations Police three hours after the incident took place.
The teens were driving home along the shoulder of Fourth Line Road from their first formal date on Dec. 3, 2012, along with Bain, a friend, when Squire-Hill slammed into the ATV and dirt bike from behind.
Squire-Hill was well known by Six Nations Police and was declared a “fugitive from justice” after not presenting himself for jail, on another drunk driving charge, two months earlier.
He was not only prohibited from driving, but also from even sitting behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle after previous drunk driving convictions.
Evidence showed that after a meal at the Burger Barn, the trio was on their way home the evening of December 3, 2012 when the crash occurred. The ATV, equipped with lights and reflectors, was driven by Adam with Gwen seated behind him. Will was Adam’s best friend and went along with them, accompanying the couple home on his dirt bike, driving ahead.
The ATV was straddling the pavement and the soft shoulder of the road and the bike was on the shoulder when Squire-Hill approached at a high rate of speed, with on open case of beer in the cab with him, slamming into the rear of the ATV and the bike before driving off.
Police investigation show he was traveling at about 136 kph and that he braked for only one second before striking the ATV, throwing Gwen 66 meters from the scene of the impact. The body of Will and the crushed ATV were found by police in the ditch along side of the road where the vehicle spun after the collision. Adam, who had received a broken ankle and two crushed vertebra in his back was found laying on the side of the road, crying for help and calling for his friends.
Squire-Hill’s vehicle continued more than 100 yards down the road before clipping off a hydro pole. He got out of the vehicle and was picked up by a black SUV and driven away from the scene. Six Nations police soon found him, three hours later, drunk.
Turnbull found Squire-Hill guilty of the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death, and dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The Judge explained that because Squire-Hill left the scene and could not be tested for alcohol or drug use since it was three hours after the fact, he could not, beyond reasonable doubt, find him guilty of the original charge. His formal decision was contained in a 105 page-document, which he read in the courtroom.
In addition, Justice Turbull found Squire-Hill guilty of three counts of fleeing the scene of the collision “with intent to escape civil or criminal liability,” and for not stopping to assist when he knew he had done seriously injury or even killed someone.
Tanya Martin called the Judges decision “extremely fair” saying that these kinds of alcohol or drug deaths need to be treated like manslaughter and that fleeing the scene needs to be taken very seriously.
“I implore our justice minister, the Honourable Peter McKay, to do some serious revamping of the Criminal Code,” she told reporters outside the courthouse. Standing with Will’s mother, Beth Harris, who agreed.
“Too many people are getting away with it. My mission is to make sure there are changes. This is vehicular manslaughter,” said Martin.
Sentencing will come in the fall after a Gladue report is prepared and considered by the court.
The issue brings up the question about the Gladue system itself which prepares a biography of the guilty party in cases involving Onkwehon:we people, to consider the background of the person charged and usually results in reduced sentencing and/or participation in rehabilitation programs.
It also begs the question that since Squire-Hill was already well known by Six Nations Police and was already a “fugitive from justice”, why did the SNPD not pick him up and arrest him before the tragedy took place.1 comment