Northern Alberta man sentenced to nine months for high-speed quad chase (2024)

A Northern Alberta man led police on a high-speed chase from the back of a quad which resulted in a crash that ejected both driver and passenger from the vehicle.

ATHABASCA — A Bigstone Cree Nation man is hoping to put the past behind him after he led police on a high-speed chase from the back of a quad which resulted in a crash that ejected both driver and passenger from the vehicle.

In Athabasca Court of Justice June 24, Michael Bruce Cardinal, 30, pleaded guilty to one count of flight from a peace officer and one count of failure to attend as part of a joint submission between defence counsel David Keyes and Crown prosecutor Mark Facundo.

As part of the submission, one charge of operating a vehicle while impaired and one charge of possession of property under $5,000 were withdrawn.

“Mr. Cardinal, you’re only 30 years old, you have a very limited criminal record, so you’re obviously maintaining times in your life when you’re not having any involvement with the criminal justice system,” said Justice Gregory Putnam, who accepted the submission.

“But clearly you understand that you can’t flee from police — it’s always going to be better to stop and find out what’s happening,” he added.

Cardinal was sentenced to nine months — or 300 days — in custody, a term which was satisfied by time served; he was arrested Nov.26, 2023 for failing to appear at a trial date for the same incident and has spent 211 days in jail, enhanced to 316 days.

The conclusion comes almost three years after the incident, which took place in Calling Lake on or around July 28, 2021.

Facundo told court police officers on patrol in the hamlet noticed two quads parked by the lakefront, one driven by a male with a female passenger and another operated by a lone male.

When approached by the patrol car, both drivers fled at high rate of speed and did not stop when officers initiated their lights and sirens. Soon after, the quad carrying a passenger and driven by Cardinal was involved in a collision on Calling Lake Drive.

“Obviously any flight from police officers should be treated very seriously,” said Facundo. “There was an accident here, luckily no one else was involved outside of the drivers of the ATV who were involved in that accident — it could have been much worse.”

The Crown noted the length of court proceedings as an aggravating factor: two prior trial dates had been set — the latest being November 20, 2023, which Cardinal did not attend —before guilty pleas were entered. However, Cardinal’s short criminal record with one unrelated charge from 2012 and his remorse were listed as mitigating circ*mstances.

“This is not the earliest guilty plea, due to the missed court days, but it is a guilty plea nonetheless,” added Facundo.

Keyes told court his client was waiving his right to wait for a Gladue report, but did make several submissions on Cardinal’s behalf.

“He comes before the court with a very limited criminal record,” said Keyes. “He completed a GED in 2015; he is two years into a journeyman pipefitting apprenticeship.”

According to his lawyer, Cardinal was previously employed in the oilfield but lost his job around 2020. Though he did secure other work with Bigstone Cree Nation, Keyes noted Cardinal developed a methamphetamine addiction after the loss of his position.

“That’s been a special challenge for him that he knows he’ll need help to address,” said Keyes.

He highlighted triable issues within the Crown’s case eliminated by Cardinal’s guilty plea, which — despite his client’s failure to attend the trail day in late 2023 — Keyes noted still qualifies as early.

“Mr. Cardinal expresses deep regret for this misbehaviour, he understands he cannot deal with the police in this sort of manner, he needs to pull over,” said Keyes. “It’s unacceptable to engage in high-speed chases with the police. In my view, it’s the equivalent or comparable to having a shoot-out with them — it’s extremely dangerous.”

Justice Putnam opted to waive the victim-fine surcharge for Cardinal, noting the imposition of a financial penalty would be an unfair burden to place on him due to his time in custody.

“This is a guilty plea, which I always give substantial credit for, regardless of when it comes, although clearly it could have come earlier,” said Putnam.

“You’re taking accountability for this offence, as well as you’ve advised counsel of your remorse, and I have no reason to believe you don’t feel remorseful,” said Putnam.

Lexi Freehill,

Northern Alberta man sentenced to nine months for high-speed quad chase (2024)


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