CALGARY – A Cochrane, Alberta man convicted of killing five people when he smashed his cement truck into the back of their car more than five years ago is expected to be granted full parole today at his final hearing before the National Parole Board.
Daniel Tschetter, 55, had already been spotted driving dangerously before his truck slammed into a vehicle stopped at a red light in Calgary in December 2007. The impact was so violent that pieces of the car were scattered for hundreds of metres along Macleod Trail, a busy north-south thoroughfare.
He was sentenced in October 2009 to 5 1/2 years in prison for manslaughter and obstruction of justice. He is also banned from ever driving a commercial vehicle again.
Tschetter was granted day parole last September which required him to live at a half-way house. He isn’t allowed to drive, consume alcohol or contact the families of his victims.
Tschetter’s statutory release date is scheduled for June 16 which makes it more than likely he will be given full parole.
Court heard during Tschetter’s trial that he was speeding and driving erratically when his truck crushed the passenger car with three children and two adults inside.
Sixteen-month-old Zachary Morrison; his mother, Melaina Hovdebo, 33; Chris Gautreau, 41; and Gautreau’s two daughters, Alexia, 9, and Kiarra, 6, were all killed on impact.
Witnesses said Tschetter had been speeding along a Calgary highway for 20 kilometres before entering the city. They said his massive truck swerved, abruptly switched lanes and sometimes passed vehicles on the shoulder. It eventually slammed nearly at full speed into the car.
It’s something the family won’t forget.
“That piece of our heart has been torn away and it scars over but the damage has been permanently done,” said Herb Grieder, who is the uncle of 16-month-old Zachary Morrison.
“A little boy’s life was taken at such an early age and we don’t have the chance to watch little Zachary grow up. In a sense we were handed a life sentence from the actions of Mr. Tschetter.”
Grieder and his wife Tracey plan to attend the hearing but he said he doesn’t expect Zachary’s father, Lee will be there.
“We have followed this since day one wanting justice to be served and for the sake of little Zachary,” said Grieder.
“To this day Lee still has a hard time dealing with the loss of Zachary and he just can’t handle seeing Mr. Tschetter.”
Once he is released, Tschetter’s sentence is officially over on April 21, 2015.
“At that point the parole board will no longer have jurisdiction over him,” said Parole Board spokeswoman Cory Black.