Man gets jail time in road rage crash that killed Humber College student in ‘horrific’ QEW pileup

Man gets jail time in road rage crash that killed Humber College student in ‘horrific’ QEW pileup

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A Mississauga man has been sentenced to six months in jail for causing a January 2018 chain-reaction crash that claimed the life of a 22-year-old Humber College student in a case of road rage on the busy Queen Elizabeth Way.

Superior Court Justice Bruce Durno on Monday agreed with the Crown that Yasir Baig, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in October, “got angry because someone flashed their high beams at him and honked” and caused a chain reaction involving five vehicles.

The crash killed Nicole Turcotte, 22, of Niagara Falls, and injured several others. In her victim impact statement, Turcotte’s mother Heather told the court about her “amazing daughter,” who loved working with children and the less fortunate.

Baig’s “reckless conduct, in anger, led to devastating consequences,” Durno said.

Baig will also serve a 32-month driving ban upon his release from jail.

Baig, now 38, was driving in the eastbound lanes of the QEW in Mississauga, at around 10 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2018, when he suddenly cut in front of traffic in the left passing lane. He slowed his Honda Civic to about 50 km/h, causing the vehicle immediately behind him to abruptly slow down.

When the driver behind him flashed his high beams twice, Baig responded by bringing his car to a complete stop on the busy highway — an act the judge described as particularly aggravating at sentencing.

Several vehicles behind Baig were able to stop, but the driver of a Ford F-150 pickup truck failed to brake in time and rear-ended the fourth vehicle in line, in which Turcotte was a passenger.

At the time, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt called it “an absolutely horrific crash.”

Baig fled the scene but surrendered to police on Feb. 8. He was initially charged with dangerous driving causing death, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, failure to remain at the scene of a collision causing deaths and failure to remain at the scene of a collision causing bodily harm.

Durno noted the driver of the F-150 later pleaded guilty to the provincial offence of failing to avoid a stopped vehicle.

Defence lawyer Ravin Pillay argued that the cause of the crash could be contested, as the driver of the pickup truck was the one who directly caused the collision by slamming into the line of stopped vehicles.

In reaching a sentence, Durno noted that while Baig’s actions were not the sole cause of the ensuing pileup, he started a “series of events that resulted in the offences.”

Baig’s sentence was mitigated by his guilty plea in a case that was snarled for months by pandemic-related delays, Durno said.

In court, Heather recounted how she held her daughter’s hand until she died, Durno said Monday at Baig’s sentencing.

“Many lives were changed and damaged by the offender’s senseless and dangerous conduct,” Turcotte’s mother told court about her daughter who was just shy of graduating from the photography program at Humber College. The college has since presented her diploma to the family as a tribute, the court heard.

“Nicole’s death was the start of a grief-filled life,” Durno said of the mother’s statements.

“The family has received a life sentence of pain and sorrow.”

Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. Reach him on email: [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic

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