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Widow of Penticton man reacts to $2K fine levied against driver who killed her husband

Steve Dahnert’s family got a life sentence and the driver has a year to pay her fine, said wife
Steven Dahnert with his grandson in 2020 before the Penticton Okanagan College instructor was killed in a head-on collision where a driver crossed into oncoming traffic on Highway 33 in Kelowna on Thanksgiving Day 2020. (Submitted)

A $2,000 fine for driving a vehicle into oncoming traffic and killing a much-loved Penticton husband, father and grandfather is a sign of a flawed legal system, said Steve Dahnert’s widow.

Carlie Dudych, 21, was sentenced in Kelowna Provincial Court last week (Nov. 14) to a fine of $2,000 for crossing the double solid line on Highway 33 into oncoming traffic, hitting Dahnert’s motorcycle he was driving on Thanksgiving Day 2020. Dahnert died later in hospital from the injuries he sustained in the crash.

According to Steve’s wife Tracy Dahnert, Dudych showed no emotion in the courtroom, even through listening to very emotional Victim Impact Statements and with many crying in the courtroom.

When asked by the judge if she had anything to say, Dudych said, “I am truly sorry.”

“We understand $2,000 was the maximum fine that could be levied and appreciate that the judge imposed the maximum fine, but she deserved so much more, and it is reflective of our flawed legal system where a person can take another life and walk away with a bill much less than what she paid her lawyer in fees. And she gets a year to pay the $2,000 fine,” said Tracy.

An instructor at Okanagan College’s Penticton campus, Dahnert’s death had a huge impact both with his close-knit family, his work and community.

Flags at the Penticton campus were lowered after they heard of their colleague’s passing. Dahnert was a long-time OC Trades and Apprenticeship instructor who began teaching in the Electrical Trades department in July 2006.

READ MORE: Driver fined for crash that killed loved Penticton instructor

He shared his knowledge and passion with countless students over the past 14 years, said OC at the time.

Tracy also speaks to the added trauma the family had to go through while the accused continued to draw out legal proceedings by pleading guilty and retracting to choosing trial and changing her mind.

“Not only causing emotional and psychological distress for the family and friends, but also inconvenience and costs as we would book time off of work, and those people coming from the lower mainland and the Island would book travel arrangements and accommodations which were sometimes too late to cancel,” she added.

A driver’s licence is a privilege and operating a vehicle is a responsibility that every driver must take very seriously, Tracy and all of Dahnert’s family stressed.

“My husband’s life and loss to me, to our family, our friends, our community, is larger than the court proceedings and sentencing, it is a lifetime for us.”

The family is still hoping that the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles ‘will do the right thing’ and revoke Dudych’s licence. But no driving bans were imposed in court.

His daughter Siobhan Wyman held a memorial blood donor clinic at the Penticton Seniors Drop-in Centre last October to honour her dad, a lifelong blood donor.

“It makes me feel close to my dad, it makes me think he’d be proud of me,” said Wyman. “He was so passionate about it, and it’s such a little thing that I can do to carry on his passion, and it’s so needed.”

Even if the Kelowna woman’s license was taken away, nothing is enough, said Tracy.

“There are never enough words to express how this loss has affected all of us, we are still very broken,” said Tracy.

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Monique Tamminga

About the Author: Monique Tamminga

Monique brings 20 years of award-winning journalism experience to the role of editor at the Penticton Western News. Of those years, 17 were spent working as a senior reporter and acting editor with the Langley Advance Times.
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