Truck driver sentenced to 8 years in crash that killed four people, including family of three
TORONTO -- A truck driver has been sentenced to eight years in jail after being found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm following a 2016 fiery crash on Highway 400 that killed four people.
Sarbjit Matharu, 40, was found guilty of the charges in April.
At a sentencing hearing on Friday, a judge sentenced Matharu to eight years in connection with four charges of criminal negligence causing death and another four years to be served concurrently for the singular charge of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
He is also prohibited from driving for 10 years.
"Many were harmed by this collision and the degree of harm was extraordinary,” Superior Court Justice Michael Code said on Friday.
The crash took place on June 24, 2016 in the southbound lanes of the highway near Finch Avenue around 10 p.m. Eleven vehicles were involved in the collision.
Three of the four victims were members of the same family—35-year-old Valbona Vokshi, her five-year-old daughter Isabela Kuci, and the girl's 55-year-old grandmother Xhemile Vokshi.
The family was returning from a day at Canada’s Wonderland at the time of the crash.
The sister of Valbona Vokshi, Blerta Vokshi, who survived the crash with her then two-year-old son, issued a statement on Friday after the sentencing.
“Four innocent people lost their lives and one was a child only five years old with so many plans and aspirations for the future that was stolen from them,” she said in a statement.
“I would like to express my appreciation for the court and I hope the sentence will bring me some relief and serve the justice system in order to prevent future tragedies like the one my family and I have endured in the last five years.”
The fourth victim has been identified as 27-year-old Maria Lipska.
In his April verdict, Superior Court Justice Michael Code found Matharu was driving on only two hours of sleep. The judge also stated Matharu was distracted by lengthy phone calls with friends.
Matharu had blamed his employer, Rainbow Transport, for pressuring him to complete the delivery on time and on insufficient sleep, but the judge responded, "there were choices he could have made. He could have refused the job and stood up to his employer’s pressure to break the law.”
He added that a message must be sent to the trucking industry that it’s unacceptable to driver on insufficient sleep.
“As can be seen by the disastrous results of this choice in the present case, the cost and the benefits are completely disproportionate and truck drivers must be deterred from thinking that this kind of choice is acceptable." he said.