SALTWIRE NETWORK: A 25-year-old Hants County man has been sentenced to five years in jail for charges stemming from a car crash that killed his best friend earlier this year.
Andrew Blaine Rafuse of Lower Vaughan was in Windsor provincial court Friday, where Judge Alan Tufts sentenced him to four years for dangerous driving causing death and nine months for leaving the scene of an accident.
Rafuse was also sentenced to three months for breaching his release conditions by being in a bar last month.
Crown attorney Bill Fergusson said Rafuse was driving his car too fast and erratically when he lost control approaching a single-lane bridge on the Bog Road in Mount Denson in the early morning of June 22.
The car hit the bridge and ended up on its side.
Dashonn States, 22, was in the front passenger seat. He was thrown from the vehicle and pinned underneath the car, which ended up on its side. He was pronounced dead at the scene when paramedics arrived.
Two other passengers — a 20-year-old woman and a 16-year-old girl — were injured.
Fergusson said statements from the two other passengers and Rafuse himself indicated that he had consumed three beers before going to a house party, about five beers there, and then more after they left, and were driving around Kings and Hants counties.
Rafuse also snorted a crushed-up painkiller at the party and put some cocaine on his fingertip and then on his tongue, Fergusson said.
He said the surviving passengers told police that Rafuse was speeding and “driving crazy,” and that they had asked him to slow down.
At one point he was driving 160 km/h on Highway 101.
After the crash, Fergusson said, the two surviving passengers went to a nearby house to get help and Rafuse left the scene on foot. He was picked up about nine hours later by the father of one of the passengers while walking along the side of a road. That made it impossible to determine what his blood-alcohol level was at the time of the crash.
Defence lawyer Chris Manning said a video recording by one of the girls showed Rafuse looking back at the girl just before realizing he was heading too close to one side of the bridge but over-corrected and hit the other side.
He said Rafuse tried to pull States free from under the car, but couldn’t until the passengers came back and helped.
Manning said when the passengers went to the neighbouring house again and Rafuse heard sirens, he left the scene and ran into the woods.
Fergusson asked for a prison term of five to seven years, while Manning suggested one to three.
“Dangerous driving, and dangerous driving after consuming alcohol, is a serious offence,” Tufts said in handing down his decision. “This offence carried the most serious consequences, because an innocent man lost his life.”
Rafuse pleaded guilty to the charges in August. Charges of impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death were withdrawn.
In a victim impact statement read in court, States’ sister, Chelsa States, said she has to look at her brother’s picture every day to remind herself that she won’t see him again.
She said that during her clinical placement at the Hants Community Hospital in Windsor as part of her studies to be a nurse, she was affected every time she heard there were patients on their way in from a car crash.
“I want to hear him laugh one more time,” she said. “My brother was robbed of his future. He wanted to get married and have children.”
States’ mother, Tina Marie Dagley-Mason, said she fell to the floor when she was given the news that her son had died.
“My world had shattered,” she said in her statement, which she also read in court. She went to the bridge and saw the smashed car, which had not yet been removed as police continued their investigation.
“Part of my soul died at that bridge,” she said. “I am numb, a shell of myself.”
She said since her son died she hasn’t been sleeping well, and wakes up with night terrors and tears streaming down her face.