Four Year Sentence For Driver Involved In Wingham High Speed Crash

Emergency crews respond to a crash on Josephine St in Wingham, September 14, 2014. (Photo by Steve Sabourin)

A Goderich judge has sentenced 27-year-old Joshua Fryer to four years in prison plus a ten-year prohibition from driving.

In September 2014, Fryer was driving a stolen mini-van when he ran a red light on Hwy. 4 in Wingham at Hwy. 86, crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a pick-up truck head on. The recorded speed at the time of air bag deployment in the stolen mini-van was 172 km/h.

Fryer was seriously hurt in the crash and so was the driver of the pick-up truck, Marsha Benninger.

Benninger, who was nine months pregnant at the time with her second child, was expecting to deliver her baby boy any day but the unborn baby, named Sawyer, did not survive.

Benninger delivered a very emotional and powerful victim impact statement in front of the court. She told the court a child’s death forever changes a family, and stated that she continues to battle mental, physical, emotional and financial challenges.

“My life has changed and continues to change, my heart has been torn in half, my heart is full of pain, our lives were shattered by a thoughtless individual,” Benninger told the Court. “There’s a place in my heart that aches for the son I never knew, the son I never got to hold.”

Fryer sat in his wheelchair, sobbing, clearly emotional and showing signs of remorse and regret as Benninger continued with her victim impact statement.

“You have robbed me of my son and my ability to conceive,” Benninger went on. “I ask that your sentence reflect his actions, in my eyes he murdered my son and delivered us a life long sentence.”

For Pauline Benninger, the scars of what happened to her daughter, granddaughter and unborn grandson, are very real.

“I don’t think I can every forgive that driver, I’m sad and empty and mad and angry,” she said.

The Judge, clearly impacted by what he head heard from both Marsha Benninger and her mother, called her statement, “A heroic job that requires a tremendous amount of courage and poise. The victim impact statements have been very moving to this court.”

As for Fryers actions on that day, the Judge stated: “The behaviour of the accused is every parent’s worst nightmare, a high degree of moral blame worthiness.”

Benninger’s injuries, as devastating as they were at the time, continue to plague her physically, mentally and psychologically. As for the sentence handed down to Fryer, Benninger says she’s pleased at the outcome.

“No sentence brings back what was taken from us or changes injury, but, it’s the closure of a chapter for us to move forward,” Benninger told CKNX News outside the Huron County Courthouse in Goderich.

Defense Counsel Scott Cowan, in his submission to the court, said, “there is remorse in this case, Mr. Fryer himself knows he is going to jail today.”

As part of the sentence for his actions, described by the Crown as having caused changes that are indescribable, numbing and life altering, Fryer must submit a secondary DNA sample and is prohibited from driving for 10 years.