A 36-year-old man has received a 9.5 year sentence after hitting and killing a 23-year-old conservation officer with his vehicle in 2013.
Last year, Blaine Taypotat pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Justin Knackstedt, as well as impaired driving and criminal negligence causing death. Taypotat hit and killed the conservation officer while Knackstedt directed traffic on the highway.
The sentence was just shy of a 10 year sentence being asked by the Crown. Taypotat also received a 20 year driving ban. He will be given a 36-month credit for time already spent on remand.
Justice R.D. Maher said he believed the sentence should be on the higher end of the spectrum. He said there were a number of factors that led to his decision, including the fact that Taypotat's blood alcohol content was three times over the legal limit, the fact that he was under judicial orders not to drive or drink at the time and the fact that he fled the scene.
Before he was loaded into a police vehicle, Taypotat said he was sorry.
"I'd like to give my apologies to the Knackstedt family," he said. "I'm sorry for everything I've done ... I hope that you can move on with your lives."
One of Knackstedt's supporters shouted, "Sorry won't bring Justin back." Taypotat responded, "I know. Like I said, no matter how much time I do, or how many times I say I'm sorry, it's not going to bring him back."
Kevin Callele, the man responsible for the Ministry of Environment's enforcement arm, said Knackstedt's death was deeply felt.
"Justin was a close friend and a co-worker, and it impacted everybody throughout the ministry," Callele said. "We just hope today that the sentence that was given will bring some closure to the family."
Callele said the death was made harder considering Knackstedt's age.
"Justin was a young gentleman that was just starting his career," he said. "He had a passion for the outdoors, he had a passion for the work he did, and he was looking forward to a career in the ministry."
Knackstedt and his partner were driving to patrol nearby Blackstrap Provincial Park when they stopped to help direct traffic around a highway traffic accident.
Investigators believed Taypotat was driving between 96-115 km/h when he hit Knackstedt with his vehicle.
During sentencing arguments, defence lawyers entered a Gladue report, which said Taypotat had been a victim of residential schools and years of abuse and neglect.