Louis Morgan pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in connection with a 2016 rollover crash on Highway 1 near the Clearbrook Road exit that resulted in his wife’s death. (File photo)

Louis Morgan pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in connection with a 2016 rollover crash on Highway 1 near the Clearbrook Road exit that resulted in his wife’s death. (File photo)

Motorists were ‘driving like their own Indy 500’ before fatal Abbotsford crash, court hears

Family member declares defence request for 90-day jail sentence a ‘joke’

Just moments before Louis Morgan lost control of his Mustang as it weaved through highway traffic in Abbotsford in pursuit of another vehicle, a frightened motorist pulled off the road and told a 911 operator that he was worried someone on the road would die that evening.

A minute or two later, Morgan’s car swerved in front of another vehicle, fishtailed wildly, then catapulted off the road, flipping end-over-end before coming to a rest upside down in the median between the Clearbrook and Mt. Lehman Road exits.

Morgan survived and sustained serious injuries in the 2016 crash. But his wife, 34-year-old Shantelle Morgan, died from her injuries shortly after being rushed to hospital.

Morgan, now 50, has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death. On Monday in Chilliwack, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Giaschi heard submissions about how long he should spend in prison.

Crown counsel Carolyn Lawlor called for a sentence of two years less a day, noting that the five minutes of terror Morgan inflicted on other motorists that April evening didn’t reflect a “momentary lapse.”

“It’s so extreme,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine anything more dangerous.”

One witness described two cars speeding through traffic, “driving like their own Indy 500 on the highway.”

Lawlor also asked for a significant probation term, along with a long driving ban.

RELATED: Man with impaired-driving history charged in crash that killed his wife

Morgan has a record of bad driving behaviour, having previously received seven 24-hour driving prohibitions and having been convicted for impaired driving in 2001 and 2006.

Lawlor said she would have sought a harsher jail term at the upper end of the sentencing spectrum had it not been for Morgan’s upbringing and sentencing guidelines that require the court to take into account the legacy of the residential school system on Indigenous offenders.

But Morgan’s lawyer Jerry Steele said a sentence of just 90 days would be appropriate, and that his client should be able to serve it intermittently.

“In my submission, this is the culmination of a lifetime of unresolved trauma, unresolved issues,” he said.

Steele argued that deterrence of such driving could still be served by such a sentence.

The request drew a shocked response from family members of Shantelle Morgan. One stormed out after stating the request to be a “joke.”

In his submission, Steele cited sentences handed down to drivers who had disregarded and run red lights and stop signs, including one involving an inexperienced driver.

The judge, though, suggested that the circumstances at hand weren’t comparable.

“It seems to me a new driver running a red light is remarkably different,” Giaschi suggested.

Giaschi had just heard that, on the evening of April 9, 2016, Louis Morgan was driving at a speed of between 120 and 140 km/h, weaving in and out of traffic and tailgating those moving slower. Although he drove through Abbotsford just after 9 p.m., witnesses said the highway was extremely busy on the night in question.

After a white BMW passed Morgan in the area, witnesses reported his Mustang then appeared to be bent on overtaking the car. One witness reported seeing the vehicles “rat-racing” and switching lanes four to five times, Lawlor said.

After the crash, those arriving at the spot where the Mustang had left the road could smell burning rubber.

Lawlor also told the court that, after the crash, Louis Morgan said his wife had told him to slow down, but that he had “lost it” when the BMW had passed him.

Some of those at the crash scene reported smelling alcohol on Louis Morgan’s breath. Steele conceded that his client had consumed some alcohol, but said it was unclear how much he had drank and how much of a contributing factor it had been in the crash.

Although Morgan was originally charged with impaired driving causing death, that was stayed after a preliminary inquiry revealed there wasn’t enough evidence to justify prosecuting for that crime.

Morgan, who cried throughout much of Monday’s hearing, read from a letter, apologizing for his actions.

“I live in the house we built together and see her in every room,” he said. “If I could change places with Shantelle I would.”

A sentencing decision is expected in three to four weeks.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged in Coquihalla crash showed ‘wanton and reckless disregard for other people’s lives’: Crown

Despite already having brake issues, Roy McCormack tackled the steepest hill on the infamous highway

Abbotsford International Airport. Black Press file photo.
Abbotsford Airport had 4th highest traffic in Canada in 2020, and its number are down

Statistics Canada report describes a ‘devastating year’ for air travel

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Chilliwack’s Ryan Wugalter with his kids, three-year-old Mira and 15-month-old Solomon. Wugalter recently released his children’s album Super Giraffe. (Submitted)
Chilliwack father releases children’s album, songs about superhero giraffe and not eating magnets

Inspiration for Ryan Wugalter’s new album ‘Super Giraffe’ came from his two young kids

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read