Stephanie Albert might have died at scene had it not been for an off-duty paramedic who applied pressure to her open wounds

Ottawa’s Stephanie Albert wanted to meet the eyes of the drunk driver who ruined her life as he was wheeled from a Perth courtroom to serve a 3 1/2-year prison term.

“I wanted to be the last thing he saw in the courtroom before he went to jail, because I wanted him to think about me while he’s in there,” the 30-year-old Albert said Tuesday.

“I didn’t say anything to him; I just looked at him. I didn’t let him see me cry until the door closed behind him: There was anger, rage, sadness — and a little bit of relief, if I’m honest.”

Roy Radke, 37, a paraplegic who uses a wheelchair because of injuries he suffered in a June 2015 suicide attempt, had pleaded guilty to impaired and dangerous driving causing bodily harm in the collision that nearly killed Albert.

Superior Court Justice Gary Tranmer said he was acutely aware that while Radke will be able to resume a normal life after his sentence, the victim of his recklessness will not.

“She has been served a life sentence of pain and disability,” Tranmer said in his recent judgment.

THE BACKGROUND: Stephanie Albert’s long road to recovery

A graphic designer, Albert was doing what she loved most — riding her Honda street bike — when she crested a hill in the westbound lane of Highway 7 on the warm, sunny afternoon of Sept. 1, 2017.

Radke was eastbound on Highway 7 after downing three tequilas and several beers in Carleton Place. He had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood when, frustrated by bumper-to-bumper traffic, he crossed the double yellow line, accelerated into the westbound lane, clipped two vehicles and slammed into Albert’s motorcycle. Witnesses said Radke was travelling as fast as 80 kilometres an hour.

Albert had no time to swerve. She was catapulted from her motorcycle, flew over Radke’s car and landed flat on the highway.

She might have died at scene had it not been for an off-duty paramedic who applied pressure to her open wounds. She was airlifted to hospital with injuries that included a shattered pelvis, a fractured left femur, two broken wrists, a broken back, three broken ribs, two collapsed lungs, a ruptured bladder, a torn spleen and a severe concussion.

It took Albert three weeks to sit up and two months to take her first step. She has had nine surgeries but has been unable to return to work, ride a motorcycle or live without pain. She suffers memory and concentration problems, depression and PTSD.

She regularly sees a physiotherapist, neurologist, psychologist, speech therapist, massage therapist and occupational therapist.

“Roy Radke, you killed Stephanie Albert on September 1st, 2017,” she said in an unsparing two-hour victim-impact statement. “The person standing before you has been reduced to a shell of that passionate young woman.”

In his written sentencing decision, the judge said the penalty imposed on Radke cannot make up for Albert’s “past, present or future nightmares.”

“While the criminal justice system can deter and denounce, it is ill-suited to make reparation for harm of the magnitude involved in this case,” Tranmer said.

The judge accepted Crown attorney Robert Corbella’s recommendation for a 3 1/2-year sentence and a five-year driving ban. Defence lawyer Craig Rogers had asked for a 2 1/2-year term.

The judge said the case required a harsh sentence because Radke chose to drink and drive, then acted “dangerously, aggressively and impatiently” when behind the wheel. “Mr. Radke’s moral blameworthiness is at the highest degree,” Tranmer said. “The consequences of his choice to drink and drive are such that no on should have to endure.”

Court heard that Radke, a former construction worker, was going through relationship problems when he went to a Carleton Place bar early on the afternoon of Sept. 1, 2017. A pre-sentence report characterized him a loving father to his seven-year-old son, an active member of his church and a volunteer for groups that serve young people and the homeless.

Pastor Timothy Nolan of the Living Waters Christian Assembly told court that Radke was a gentle, kind-hearted man who was abused as a child in foster care. That experience led to years of depression and alcoholism, court heart, and culminated in a suicide attempt in which Radke rode his motorcycle at high speed into a forest. He suffered a severe concussion, multiple fractures and a spinal cord injury that partially paralyzed him.

In a statement before he was sentenced, Radke told court his life was a constant fight for survival. As he was taken to prison, he told Albert, “Take care of yourself, OK.”

Albert said she looks forward to the day when Radke’s name will mean less in her life. “Right now, the name Roy Radke is an insidious word that creeps into my thoughts when I’m feeling depressed and overwhelmed. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle.”

Source: National Post