Steve Ewert took his hand off the steering wheel of his new BMW to adjust the rear-view mirror so he could see the backseat passenger begging him to slow down.
The smirk he gave her would be his last. Ewert lost control on a curve and drove off Boucherie Road. The BMW 335 diesel he'd won in a lottery weeks earlier cartwheeled seven times into a farmer's field, killing him and injuring his three passengers.
A crash analyst calculated the car's minimum speed when it left the road was 106 km/h. The speed limit is 60.
Ewert, 47, was following a friend driving a Porsche Boxster just as fast that Good Friday in 2009. Michael John Bell was celebrating his 53rd birthday with his wife and friends, and had booked a lunch reservation at a golf course on Boucherie Road. They were all visiting from Alberta.
The two men left separately from a house on Menu Road but soon started speeding together along the winding roads of Lakeview Heights. Police said the cars appeared to be racing, although Ewert's BMW never overtook Bell's Porsche or drove alongside it.
An orchardist reported the two cars blew through a stop sign at Ourtoland and Ogden roads and failed to stop at Boucherie. He could hear the engines revving in the distance.
The speedsters headed south toward a curve marked by a 30-km/h sign. A woman driving north pulled over to make way as they approached the curve. Each car swerved into the oncoming lane, forcing two other northbound vehicles to get out of the way.
Another witness estimated the Porsche went past his house at 100 km/h with the BMW five metres behind it. A northbound driver said they were barely three metres apart and doing over 80 just south of Gregory Road.
Bell slowed down behind another vehicle, forcing Ewert to do the same. A hundred metres separated them when they sped up again to 100. Ewert failed to stay in his lane on a curve near Pritchard Road and crashed. Bell and his wife turned around and waited until police came.
Const. Bob Charon arrested Bell for dangerous driving. He had no alcohol in his system, but a blood sample revealed Ewert's level was just below the legal limit.
Firefighters extricated Ewert's fiancee from the front seat. The woman and man riding in the back, ages 41 and 54 respectively, crawled out through a broken window.
The woman told police she didn't see the Porsche and the men never planned to race before they left the house. She said Ewert drove aggressively, and when she asked him to slow down he did the opposite, said Crown counsel Colin Forsyth.
Bell, dressed in a black suit, was to begin a four-day trial for criminal negligence causing death by street racing Tuesday. He pleaded guilty instead to the lesser charge of dangerous driving. The Crown couldn't prove Bell's behaviour caused Ewert to die.
"The red Porsche proceeding as it did in front of him may or may not have incited him to drive that way," said Forsyth. "They were both fast . . . but independent of each other."
Bell, now 56, has three grown children and six employees who work for his commercial drywall business in Calgary. He had no criminal record, but several speeding tickets.
His "immature and dangerous behaviour" was hard to comprehend, and Ewert's death was "tragic and senseless," said B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Willcock.
"That conduct . . . should be condemned," he said. "You may remember the tragic circumstances surrounding the events of this case on each of your birthdays."
The judge agreed with Forsyth and Bell's lawyer Richard Hewson that Bell pay a $7,500 fine and obey an 18-month driving ban.
Bell handed his Alberta licence to a court clerk as his wife quietly wept.