Eileen Kleinfelder of Chilliwack was killed in a head-on crash on the Highway 11 bypass in Abbotsford in October 2012. The other driver, Michael Larocque, has now been sentenced. (Abbotsford News file photo)

Eileen Kleinfelder of Chilliwack was killed in a head-on crash on the Highway 11 bypass in Abbotsford in October 2012. The other driver, Michael Larocque, has now been sentenced. (Abbotsford News file photo)

B.C. driver gets 18 months for falling asleep and killing other driver in 2012

Crash resulted in death of Eileen Kleinfelder of Chilliwack

A man who fell asleep at the wheel and killed another driver in Abbotsford in 2012 has been sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Judge Kristen Mundstock said Monday in Abbotsford provincial court that Michael Larocque created a “devastating risk” to the public when he chose to drive and neglected to pull over when he started to nod off on Oct. 15, 2012.

Larocque, 49, crossed the centre line while driving in a cargo van on the Sumas Way/Highway bypass and crashed head-on into a 2012 Fiat being driven by Eileen Kleinfelder, 67, of Chilliwack.

Kleinfelder was pronounced dead at Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

Mundstock said that several months before the collision, Larocque sought medical advice for a “sleeping dysfunction” and was diagnosed with sleep apnea.

He told doctors that he would fall asleep “everywhere,” including in moving vehicles, Mundstock said.

She said this led to Larocque, a floor installer, to make arrangements for his work partner to drive. He also started using a CPAP machine – which helps people with sleep apnea breathe properly and get more-restful sleep – about a week before the crash, Mundstock said.

READ MORE: Man pleads guilty in relation to 2012 fatal head-on collision

READ MORE: Six years after fatal crash, family frustrated with court delays

But on the day of the crash, his partner didn’t show up and Larocque opted to drive himself to work.

EILEEN KLEINFELDER

Mundstock said Larocque started to nod off at the wheel and told himself he would pull over at the next “convenient spot,” but this never occurred.

“Mr. Larocque created a terrible risk making a decision to drive on Oct. 15, 2012. He gave his personal interests priority over the safety of the general public,” Mundstock.

She said it is concerning that after the crash, Larocque continued to drive and rack up further criminal charges.

In May 2017, he was charged with driving while prohibited after a police officer in Saanich on Vancouver Island pulled him over when he was driving erratically and crossing the centre line, Mundstock said.

The following month, also in Saanich, he was stopped at a police roadblock, and told the officer that his wallet was in the back of his vehicle.

He was instructed to pull over, but instead Larocque fled from the scene, leading to a three-kilometre pursuit by police. He then fled on foot after pulling into a driveway, but was soon arrested.

Mundstock said Larocque has a total of 59 entries on his driving record, as well as criminal convictions that include robbery, assault, uttering threats and breaching his court-ordered conditions.

She said these were among the aggravating factors that led her to sentence Larocque to 17 months for the charge of dangerous driving causing death in the fatal collision, 10 days for the May 2017 charge and 20 days for the June 2017 incident.

Prior to sentencing, Mundstock declined to approve Larocque’s application to withdraw his guilty plea.

READ MORE: Man wants guilty plea revoked in 2012 collision in Abbotsford that killed Chilliwack woman

Larocque was initially charged with criminal negligence causing death, but pleaded guilty in March 2018 to the lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death.

A sentencing hearing took place, and the judge was set to give her ruling on the sentence on Aug. 20, 2018, when Larocque indicated that he wanted to revoke his guilty plea.

A hearing on the matter was held May 22 of this year, at which time Larocque said he no longer believed that he had committed a criminal act because he had not set out to intentionally hurt anyone on the day of the fatal crash.

Mundstock said the guilty plea would stand because, at the time he made it, it was “voluntary, informed and unequivocal.” He also did not take issue with the advice from the lawyer who was defending him at the time.

Mundstock said that Larcoque also did not prove there would be a miscarriage of justice against him if the guilty plea were to stand. She said he was well aware of his medical condition, and chose to drive anyway.

“The fact that Mr. Larocque regrets his decision – a decision that was made for valid reasons at the time – is not a sufficient reason for this court to permit the withdrawal of the guilty plea,” she said.

Report an error or send us your tips, photos and video.

Vikki Hopes | Reporter

@VikkiHopes

Send Vikki an email.
Like the Abbotsford News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Brett Alexander Jones is wanted on several warrants province-wide, in connection with multiple charges. (Kitimat RCMP photo)
Kitimat RCMP searching for man wanted on several warrants province-wide

Jones is described as a five-foot 10-inches Caucasian man, with blond hair and blue eyes.

The Nisga’a Valley Health Authority reported an isolated cluster of COVID-19 cases among non-direct care staff at the New Aiyansh Health Centre. (Gary Fiegehen/Nisga’a Lisims Government)
New Aiyansh Health Centre experiencing COVID-19 cluster among non-direct care staff

Nisga’a Valley Health Authority asking residents to cancel appointments outside the Nass Valley

The Nisga’a Lisims Government has extended its state of local emergency. (File photo)
Nisga’a state of local emergency extended, vaccines delayed

There are 21 active COVID-19 cases in the Nisga’a Valley Health Authority

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Most Read