Judge rules driver in fatal crash not impaired

Jean-Paul Kowal instead found guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

Donovan Pippus was killed after being hit by a vehicle driven by Jean-Paul Kowal on Sept. 10

Donovan Pippus was killed after being hit by a vehicle driven by Jean-Paul Kowal on Sept. 10

After a weeklong trial last month, Jean-Paul Kowal was convicted Friday of dangerous driving causing death for a collision that killed 17-year-old Salmon Arm resident Donovan Pippus in 2010.

Kowal was facing charges of dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death, and causing an accident resulting in death, after witnesses testified seeing signs of impairment moments before his vehicle hit Pippus head-on, just seven minutes from his home.

While Justice Dev Dley found Kowal guilty of dangerous driving causing death, he acquitted him on the charge of impaired driving causing death.

Throughout the trial, Kowal’s lawyer Rishi Gill argued that he had not been impaired when the accident took place, but instead, consumed alcohol after the crash. He noted that RCMP, ambulance attendants, and other professionals did not see any signs of impairment while at the scene.

Blood tests later showed Kowal had over three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, and a nurse at the hospital reported seeing signs comparable to those of ‘sobering up.’

Kowal had been heading home to Kelowna on Sept. 1, 2010, after working a stint in Alberta.

Evidence presented at the trial indicated Kowal’s vehicle had been swerving, tailgating and executing a pass close to a dangerous turn. Moments later, Kowal’s vehicle drifted once again into the oncoming lane on Highway 97A, killing Pippus, who was on his way home from a friend’s place.

Pippus’s family and friends were in court every day of the trial. Diane Pippus, Donovan’s mother, said earlier in the trial that she had hoped that their presence would show Kowal how many lives he had damaged.

Kowal will be sentenced later this spring.