With country tunes blaring, drinking “roadies” and singing along the way, an Orillia man was having a drunken “car party” when his pickup truck careened off the road and crashed into a tree, horribly decapitating his friend, a court heard Wednesday.

Tyson Lawlor, 22, was found guilty of drunk driving and criminal negligence, causing death of Ellen Silk, 20, of Orillia.

“Mr. Lawlor and his passengers were in essence having a car party,” said Justice Nancy Dawson in a scathing and blunt ruling. “I would have thought that his two friends throwing up behind the truck might have given him the thought that he, too, had too much to drink … Instead, Mr. Lawlor was reckless, headlong, heedless and irresponsible.”

During the trial, witnesses testified Lawlor and his three passengers enjoyed a night of drinking before leaving a Midland bar at closing time and taking back roads home, singing and drinking all the way. Lawlor turned around to look at Silk and another passenger as they sang and “seat danced,” when he careened into a ditch and crashed into a tree, near Orillia, at around 2 a.m. on Nov. 20, 2015.

When the truck came to a stop, the three survivors smiled and breathed a sigh of relief, then turned on the interior light to see the headless body of Silk slumped in the backseat beside a case of beer. They “freaked out” and fled from the truck screaming.

Weaving back and fourth as he stood, with red-rimmed, half-closed eyes, Lawlor was arrested at the scene. The judge found Lawlor’s alcohol readings would have been a at least nearly twice the legal limit at the time of the crash.

“To be honest with you, I might have had a beer or two earlier tonight,” Lawlor told a police officer, which was played on a video in court. The judge found the statement showed Lawlor was aware he was drunk and tried to hide it.

As Lawlor left court, he covered his face with a sheet of paper. The victim’s family left court quietly, their grief apparent on their faces.

“There are no winners here,” said Brad Silk, the dead woman’s father.

A sentencing hearing is set for Jan. 12. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison however the average sentence for first-time drunk drivers who causes a fatality is about four years.

Source: Toronto Sun