The man who drove an ATV into a crowd of dancers at an outdoor musical festival near Princeton last summer was sentenced to 14 months in jail in Princeton court on Thursday (Aug. 13).
Dallas Grismer-Voght, 25, of Merritt, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing bodily harm.
Several festival-goers were seriously injured. One man suffered a broken neck, and another a fractured pelvis. A woman’s leg was broken, and others experienced fractures, concussion, bruising and torn ligaments.
“There has been significant impact on these individuals. It has not been easy for them,” said Crown counsel Andrew Vandersluys. In addition to physical impacts, victims continue to experience “post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and ongoing anxiety.”
The incident occurred June 30, 2019, at the Curiosity Music Festival held on Pike Mountain, approximately 40 km north of Princeton.
“People were dancing and having a good time right next to the stage,” said Vandersluys.
“The vehicle showed up out of nowhere and hit several people. Panic set in. It was a chaotic scene.”
The attack on the crowd occurred at about 2 a.m.. Reading from an agreed statement of facts, Vandersluys said Grismer-Voght had ingested cocaine, amphetamines and LSD in the hours leading up to the tragedy.
“He didn’t know which way was up, or down.”
Grismer-Voght first came to the attention of festival staff when a camper reported a stranger had crawled into a tent on his site and fell unconscious.
An Emergency Health Services worker attended the campsite, and helped Grismer-Voght into his side-by-side ATV, in order to transport him to a harm reduction site.
Court heard Grismer-Voght assaulted the health care worker, and stole the off-road vehicle. He then eventually drove to the concert area, where he barrelled through the crowd and into the stage.
Defence counsel Dorothy O’Donnel agreed there were “horrendous consequences” for the victims of the crime. However, she said her client was appalled by what happened when the effects of his drug use wore off.
“He took responsibility. Even when he was still in his intoxicated state, he came to realize just how bad the consequences of his actions were.”
The joint submission from Crown and defence recommended the 14-month jail sentence, followed by two years probation and a three-year driving ban.
“I am terribly sorry for my actions at the festival,” Grismer-Voght said, addressing Judge Greg Koturbash. “I know that it was not, it wasn’t anything that I pictured myself doing … I am extremely sorry for all the injury I caused to all those people.”
When passing sentence, Koturbash noted that judges are bound to follow jointly submitted sentencing recommendations, except in extreme cases.
He stressed the severity of Grismer-Voght’s misdeeds.
“There are stupider things in life to do, but that list is pretty short.”
Koturbash also acknowledged a positive pre-sentencing report, and the fact that Grismer-Voght has stopped using drugs and alcohol.
Grismer-Voght’s probation, on his release from prison, will be overseen by an Indigenous court in Merritt.
He was also ordered to pay restitution to two victims, in the amount of $3,250, for direct expenses.
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