Scott Altiman has pleaded guilty in deaths of Cody Andrews, 23 and Jerry Pitre, 46Scott Altiman covered his face and wept as the families of the two people he killed in a drunk driving incident last year described the emotional and physical turmoil his actions have had on their lives.
Altiman has pleaded guilty to killing 23-year-old Cody Andrews and 46-year-old Jerry Pitre after his car slammed into two vehicles at Highbury Avenue and Dundas Street on Sept. 8, 2016.
Three people were also injured in the early-morning crash, including Altiman himself. Weeping could be heard as family and friends of Andrews and Pitre read victim-impact statements aloud in front of a packed courtroom.
Altiman was visibly affected by their words, hanging his head low, covering his face and nodding as one by one, family and friends of his victims described the depths of their pain and the havoc his actions caused.
Altiman, 31, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death, two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm, two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, will be sentenced at a later date.
‘He was my best friend, the joy of my heart’
More than a dozen people delivered victim impact statements to the packed courtroom, including Rose Imhoff, the grieving mother of 46-year-old Jerry Pitre.
Leaning on a cane, Imhoff spoke through a social worker, who described how Imhoff lives with chronic and debilitating pain and depended on her son to do yard work and general repairs at her home.
Pitre also did snowblowing, shoveling, and general cleaning around the home for his mother.
He was her only son, Imhoff told the cour through her victim impact statement and it was her son who helped Imhoff through the death of her daughter, who was murdered 15 years ago.
She described how her son was always there to help cut the grass, tend to the gardens.
“He was my best friend, the joy of my heart,” she said.
‘Scott Altiman dismantled my life’
David Andrews called his son, Cody, “my friend and a good son” in his victim impact statement and described the intense anxiety he felt as he rushed to a London hospital only to learn his son had died in a crash with a drunk driver.
“Scott Altiman dismantled my life,” he said. “He used his vehicle as a lethal weapon.”
“Cody didn’t deserve to lose his life over Scott Altiman’s choice,” he said. “We will always have an empty chair at our house. An empty room and a permanent hurt in our hearts on special occasions.”
“Part of me died along with my son.”
A grieving mother speaks
Shauna Andrews, Cody’s mother, was next to read her victim impact statement to the court.
“I still, to this day, can’t process the moment I was told Cody died,” she said in court, her voice still raw with rage and sadness at the death of her son. “I can’t tell you what I felt because I have no words.”
“It eats me alive every day of my life,” she said. “I was robbed of protecting my son.”
Andrews described seeing her son in the morgue the day he died. The 23-year-old’s body was covered in a white sheet to hide the massive trauma he suffered during the crash.
“I held him tight,” she said. “I cried so hard for my poor boy.”
Andrews said she would never be the same after the death of her son. She told the court she suffers from depression, severe anxiety, post traumatic stress and sleeps only two or three hours a night, haunted by nightmares of a son who would never come home.
A sister confronts the man who killed her brother
Sarah Andrews, Cody’s sister, addressed Altiman directly when reading her victim impact statement.
“Scott, you have robbed me of a life with my brother,” she said. “You killed him.”
“I have difficulty understanding why somebody would go out to have a couple of drinks and not find another means of transportation,” she said looking at Altiman.
“My family and I have been broken since Cody’s death.”
Scott Altiman addresses the court
After family and friends of the victims read their victim impact statements to the court, Altiman chose to address the room in a tearful and emotional apology.
“My sincerest apologies to the four victims’ families as well as their friends,” he said, choking back tears and holding an eagle feather in both hands. “Words cannot express the remorse I have.”
“I accept full responsibility and I don’t take it lightly,” he said, pledging to devote the rest of his life to fight drinking and driving in order to “fulfill the debts I owe to the victims and their families.”
“I have struggled to ask the victims and their families for forgiveness,” Altiman said. “I know I can’t ask forgiveness when I can’t forgive myself.”
The court was presented with two volumes of character letters on Altiman’s behalf, who is described as a good father and hockey coach who had a lapse in judgement.
Altiman’s mother, Donna Smith Sutherland, who addressed the court as a character witness on her son’s behalf, described him as “kind” and “a good man who made a horrible mistake.”
She said her son, who is the grandson of residential school survivors, suffered abuse as a child at the hands of relatives who abused alcohol.
It’s why she told the court that she was shocked to learn that Altiman was having marital problems at the time of the crash and chose to cope with alcohol.
“I am very aware of Scott’s remorse,” she said, noting he has felt “devastation in every aspect of his life.”
Source: CBC News