Rylan Balappa-Lawes, the driver responsible for a fatal hit-and-run that resulted the death of U of T student Emma Leckey, has been sentenced to seven years in jail. He faces a further 10-year ban on driving upon release.
Leckey, who was a fourth-year student in Ethics, Society, and Law at U of T, passed away on March 15, 2018, at 21 years old. Leckey has been remembered for her volunteer service in fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society and advocacy work for social justice movements on campus.
Balappa-Lawes was 19 years old at the time of the collision, which occurred at 2:30 am.
Alcohol-impaired, he was driving the wrong way on Huron Street and ran a red light on an intersection with College Street. He struck Leckey with an SUV and did not stop to provide medical assistance.
Now 21, Balappa-Lawes has pled guilty to his charges in court. He had initially faced charges including criminal negligence causing bodily harm, impaired driving, and failing to stop after the collision.
“The truth is I was so drunk that I don’t recall colliding with Emma,” he told the court, according to Global News. “I wish I had stopped and called 911 and comforted her and held her hand.”
“It wasn’t an accident,” said Geoff Leckey, Emma’s father, in his victim impact statement to the court. “I don’t call it a mistake. It was a choice that was made. A very bad choice.”
“[Emma] worked for many good causes,” Geoff further said, “and we will continue to make sure for the rest of our lives that the causes that she supported and believed in get… support.”