A speeding teen driver who killed two children playing in the driveway of their home on a quiet residential street in Vaughan — as their parents and sister watched in horror — will be required to live in an open-custody facility for a year.
That will be followed by a six-month period of community supervision and a six-year driving prohibition.
The 17-year-old, who can’t be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was behind the wheel of his dad’s Mercedes on Athabasca Drive on May 16, 2021, when it hit a curb, launched into the air and struck Anaya Chaudhari, 10, and Jax Chaudhari, 4. A neighbor was also seriously injured.
The vehicle was traveling more than 100 km/h on a sunny Sunday on a street where the posted maximum speed is 40 km/h. He was on his way to see his girlfriend from him.
Last December, the teen pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death and one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Noting that “youths are treated differently in law,” Ontario Court Justice David Rose said that in addition to residing in an open custody facility — a sort of halfway house for young offenders — he must also live under supervision in the community for a six- month period.
The judge said he was giving “serious weight” to the level of responsibility of the teen, referred to only as CZ in court documents, and the fact that months before the crash he had written a letter acknowledging the dangers of driving dangerously.
In 2020, CZ was charged with an offense under the Highway Traffic Act, although it was subsequently withdrawn. The judge didn’t specify what the offense was, but noted the teen wrote a letter, “discussing the dangers associated with driving without a license.” The teen’s letter, written 15 months before the crash that killed the Chaudharis, said that if “you ever make the wrong choice to drive without your license and get into a severe crash think about the many problems you have now caused … and now you will have to live with that for the rest of your life.”
Rose said a custodial sentence is called for because of the “aggravating circumstances” of the conduct.
“Mr. Z also has significant responsibility not only because he was the driver but because he had turned his mind to the possibility of this happening previously.” The judge also noted numerous mitigating facts, including the teen’s “excellent prospects, his remorse and his guilty plea for him.”
The teen has been living under house arrest since he was released on a $300,000 bail.
Outside the Newmarket courthouse, the victims’ parents described the “indescribable trauma” they continue to experience every day.
“We miss Anaya and Jax, the family we had, and the people we once were,” a tearful Binta Patel, their mother, told reporters.
Their father, Ketan Chaudhari, said grieving family members struggle to accept the devastation and laws “that protect the guilty.” If a 17-year-old is too immature to understand the consequences of his behaviors and actions of him, “and then he is protected under our judicial system, then why did he get the privilege to drive?” I have asked.
“How is this different from providing a gun license to adolescents?”
The family, who don’t get to “wake up from this nightmare,” also acknowledge there are many other victims of dangerous and reckless driving. If the justice system is going to treat juveniles differently, then parents have an added responsibility when it comes to giving their children access to their cars.
“We would like to send a message to all the young drivers out there, cars are not toys. Cars can be deadly weapons. Speed limits and laws are there to be followed and not being able to abide by them is a sign that you are not ready to drive.”
On Monday, Rose read his reasons for sentence inside a packed Newmarket courtroom. At least three dozen people, including a neighbor of the Chaudharis, attempted to watch and listen on zoom.
After ignoring repeated attempts by zoom participants who tried to tell him they were unable to hear the proceedings, the clerk responded to Rose’s order to “end the zoom call immediately.”
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