Impaired driver convicted in 2013 pedestrian death

A 55 year old Edmonton driver was convicted Monday of impaired driving causing death for striking a senior citizen in a marked crosswalk as he drove home from a Super Bowl party.

At his trial, Sivakumar Devarajah pleaded not guilty, but admitted he struck 77 year old Agnes Morgan in a west end intersection as he made a left turn in February 2013.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Don Manderscheid decided it was Devarajah's impairment that caused the fatality.

"The perception of the accused was of a lesser quality than an ordinary driver in a usual circumstance," the judge said. "It seems rational to conclude he was impaired by alcohol."

Court heard that Devarajah told police at the scene he was driving home in his Ford truck after drinking two beers at a Super Bowl party. He later told police he drank four beers. At the time, his blood alcohol level was double the legal limit.

Eyewitness Thomas Pollard testified he smelled alcohol on Devarajah's breath. "It smelled like he had been drinking. He came up and his eyes were all red and he was talking right in my face."

Pollard was driving through the intersection of 156th Street and 110th Avenue when he heard the impact. Moments before, he saw Morgan standing on the corner with her cane, waiting to cross.

"She had the perfect right to walk," Pollard said. "She did everything right."

Though the impact was light, witness Denis Moreau testified, he worried about Morgan due to her age. "She wasn't hit very hard, but I knew she was an older lady. She did go about six or seven feet away from the truck."

Manderscheid rejected the defence argument that Devarajah was blinded by the sun because other drivers spotted Morgan. Also, the judge added, Devarajah simply could've used his truck's sun visor.

Morgan died hours later in the Royal Alexandra Hospital from a severe head injury.

Morgan was a longtime volunteer for the Salvation Army's Christmas kettle campaign in Edmonton and was also involved with the United Church.

"In so many ways she was just one of those saints you relied on," friend Debbie Hubbard said after Morgan's death. "Just a steady, constant presence. And she's going to be really missed."

Crown prosecutor Kim Goddard told court she will seek four to five years in prison for Devarajah.

Devarajah's sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 12.