By Delon Shurtz – Lethbridge Herald on January 29, 2022.
LETHBRIDGE HERALD[email protected]
A 22-year-old man has been placed on house arrest for several criminal offenses, including leaving the scene of an accident in which a woman was injured.
Austin Ryan Little Shields pleaded guilty Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court to the charge, as well as charges of impaired driving and taking a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. He was given a six-month conditional sentence, the first four months of which he must serve under house arrest, followed by two-months of curfew between 11 pm and 6 am
Court was told police received a complaint last August about an impaired driver at the emergency shelter in Lethbridge who was driving a black Chevy Suburban and nearly hitting employees. Eye witnesses told police the driver was speeding and driving erratically and had struck some people in the parking lot before driving away.
Shortly afterward police responded to a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of 6 Avenue and 13 Street North, from which the driver of the Suburban, later identified as Little Shields, fled on foot.
The other vehicle, a 2005 minivan, was totalled, and the female driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Little Shields at first told the police he and two other men were in the Suburban, but he was only a passenger. However, after speaking with witnesses, police determined Little Shields was the driver.
The subsequent investigation revealed that Little Shields didn’t stop at the stop sign and drove through the intersection at a high rate of speed, smashing into the minivan. His blood-alcohol level was more than double the legal limit, and Little Shields told police he drank a 26-oz bottle of whiskey a few hours before the collision and was blacking out.
The Suburban, court was told, belonged to Little Shields’ grandfather, but Little Shields took it without his consent.
The woman experienced chest pain, midline tenderness, left knee pain and a headache, but was discharged from the hospital with instructions for selfcare. In her victim impact statement read in court, she described additional injuries, including ongoing “massive headaches.” She also suffers from neck pain and her back often feels like it could “give out,” she wrote.
Little Shields sustained only minor injuries.
“These are very serious offenses committed in a way that had a lasting impact on the victim,” Crown Prosecutor Adam Zelmer said. “It’s truly fortunate either the victim or Mr. Little Shields weren’t killed in the course of this.”
Lethbridge lawyer Darcy Shurtz pointed out that before this incident his client only had one previous conviction for failing to attend court. And while he has struggled with alcohol, he has moved in with his parents, who are supporting him and helping him stay sober.
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