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Man found not guilty in 2018 crash near Oliver that killed U.K. man

Acquitted in fatal crash

The man who drove head-on into a motorcycle in Oliver in 2018, killing one of the riders and injuring the other, was acquitted of dangerous driving causing death Friday morning.

On the afternoon of July 14, 2018, 29-year-old Daerio Romeo was driving northbound on Highway 97, south of Oliver, when his Toyota Corolla entered the southbound lane, sideswiped an oncoming truck and collided head-on with a motorcycle.

The riders, 64-year-old Paul Knight and his wife Michelle, were visiting the Okanagan from the United Kingdom. Paul was killed, while Michelle was seriously injured.

In May 2019, Romeo was charged with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

During his trial this past May, the Crown relied on testimony from an Abbotsford couple who witnessed Romeo driving eastbound on Highway 3 towards Osoyoos about an hour before the fatal crash. The couple said Romeo was driving slowly and swerving.

“As [the couple] passed the Toyota, they looked over to see who was driving ... she saw that his eyes were droopy and closing, and that his head nodded once,” said Justice Dennis Hori while delivering his decision in Kelowna court Friday morning.

The investigation into the crash found there was no evidence Romeo had attempted to avoid the crash by braking or swerving.

Following the crash, Romeo told an RCMP officer: “I think fatigue caused the accident, I was tired.”

The Crown argued Romeo should be found guilty of dangerous driving because of the evidence Romeo had been drifting off an hour earlier on Highway 3.

“The Crown submits that based on all of the evidence, the conduct of Mr. Romeo continuing to drive while fatigued is a marked departure from the conduct expected of a reasonable person in Mr. Romeo's circumstances,” Justice Hori said.

But Justice Hori ultimately ruled that between 1:52 p.m., when the couple lost sight of Romeo near Osoyoos, and the crash at 2:43 p.m., Romeo could have possibly taken steps to rest.

“Given the lack of evidence, I'm not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Romeo took no steps in the 51 minutes to relieve his fatigue and avoid the risk of continuing to drive,”

“If Mr. Romeo had pulled off the highway and took steps to relieve his fatigue by taking a short nap or otherwise refreshing himself, I would not consider his conduct to be a marked departure from the actions that a reasonable person would take in those circumstances.”

Because Justice Hori found the Crown had not proven Romeo's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he acquitted Romeo.

The News & Star, a publication out of the U.K., reported Paul Knight was a popular dentist in Cumbria, England, who had previously served as president of the local Rotary Club. He left behind two sons, a daughter and two grandchildren.



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