The driver in a fatal car-surfing incident two years ago has pleaded guilty to causing his friend's death.
Chris Bezaire, 29, confessed in court to criminal negligence causing the death of Jody Rud, who was killed while riding on the roof of his Pontiac Sunfire along Bear Creek Main logging road. Police say Bezaire lost control of the car, which toppled off the road. The car's plunge tossed Rud to his death.
He was one day shy of his 25th birthday. He and his friends were celebrating the milestone at a campsite a short distance away about 10 kilometres from Westside Road on June 11, 2011.
The car was travelling about 40 km/h. It rolled 17 metres down a steep embankment before hitting a tree. Rud's body was found further downhill. He wasn't crushed by the car but died from the fall, said then-Regional Coroner Mark Coleman.
Bezaire, a longtime friend visiting from Estevan, Sask., had minor injuries. He wasn't drinking. He showed no sign of impairment and officers had no reason to ask him for a breath or blood sample, spokesman Const. Steve Holmes said at the time.
Bezaire had a clean record until now and continues to feel profound remorse, said his lawyer Grant Gray.
"Not a day goes by that he doesn't think about it," he said. "I've been at this (as a lawyer) for 31 years. He may be the finest young man I've ever represented."
Rud was a promising social worker who helped homeless people. He graduated with a degree in social work from UBC Okanagan in 2009. While a student there, he helped
organize the first Remembrance Day ceremony on campus.
He became close to war veterans. He celebrated Bezaire's 21st birthday at the Kelowna Legion, said Mary Ann Murphy, associate professor of social work at UBCO
"He was a great guy . . . very polite, affable, easy-going," she said days after the tragedy. "He looked a bit like a surfer dude. Over time, his commitment to people and social change became very evident."
Rud also helped fulfil the Christmas wishes of homeless people in Kelowna. He and other students interviewed people and posted their stories and wishes on a website to solicit donations.
Car surfing involves passengers of moving vehicles hanging out of the car or surfing on the hood, trunk or roof. Car surfing has led to scores of deaths and injuries in North America. A 2008 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control identified 58 newspaper reports of car-surfing deaths and 41 reports of nonfatal injuries from 1990 to 2008.
Bezaire makes his next court appearance on Dec. 10, by which time his pre-sentence report should be finished. The maximum penalty is life in prison.