Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2006
Source: Strathcona County This Week (CN AB)
Copyright: 2006 Strathcona County This Week
Author: Joelle Tomek, staff writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)


Jennifer Sollosy fidgeted in her chair as the evidence against James
McIlwrick built toward a verdict.

It was a decision she had been waiting for since Nov. 25, 2003, the
day her best friend was killed in a collision near Sherwood Park.

On April 12, Judge Leo Burgess found the 33-year-old man guilty of
impaired driving causing two deaths and injuring two passengers in the

Tammy Engelking, the 27-year-old driver, was carpooling to work with
three co-workers when her SUV was hit almost head-on by McIlwrick's
truck. Engelking and Henry Yao were killed in the 7:30 a.m. crash. Dan
Liew and Massoud Temouri survived with injuries.

Medical evidence showed McIlwrick smoked a joint minutes before the
crash and had a regular marijuana habit.

He was also on three prescription drugs when he crossed the centre
line of Highway 21 and collided almost head-on with the SUV.

After about two years of studying evidence that included testimony
from medical experts on both sides, Burgess ruled that, although
alcohol was not a factor, the crash was caused by McIlwrick's use of
marijuana and combination of prescription drugs.

Defense lawyer Robert Wachowich asked that sentencing be delayed six
to eight weeks so he could seek updated medical evidence.

As the judge and lawyers pulled out their daytimers to schedule a
final court date, Sollosy shook her head in dismay.

"You'd think two and a half years was enough to wait. You'd figure
action would be taken quicker, especially when lives are lost,"
Sollosy said outside the courthouse.

McIlwrick was released on bail until his sentencing on June 19, but is
prohibited from driving.

While Sollosy is anxious for the case to be resolved, she said the
sentencing won't bring real closure.

"There's no punishment that's going to be severe enough," she said.
"Nothing's going to bring Tammy back ... She's been my best friend for
15 years."

"I want to let everyone know that drugs and driving are just as severe
as drinking and driving," Sollosy added.

Engelking's father, John Rudnicki, said he would like to see set legal
limits for marijuana impairment to help judges in future cases.
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