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When a Yellowknife man who parked on the boat lunch dock at Con mine accidentally put his car in drive rather than reverse, the results could have been catastrophic.

The man, 23, borrowed his parents’ car that December 2020 night and drove out to the boat launch with four friends.

In December 2020, an intoxicated driver and his four passengers were parked at the Con Mine boat launch. When the man drunkenly put the car in drive instead of reverse the car nearly tipped onto the frozen Great Slave Lake. Natalie Pressman/NNSL photo

Intending to back up off the dock, the driver instead drove forward until the front wheels of the 2013 Ford Escape hung over Great Slave Lake while the back tires remained on the dock.

A bystander called emergency services. The RCMP and the fire department arrived on scene shortly thereafter.

The driver and passengers were advised to stay inside the vehicle to avoid shifting the car’s weight distribution and tipping it over the edge of the dock.

The car was towed back to safety and no one was injured.

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The police observed all five people to be intoxicated.

Vodka, beers and a bong water pipe were found inside the vehicle. The driver was brought back to the RCMP detachment, where his blood alcohol concentration was found to be 180 mg per 100 ml – more than double the legal limit.

In court on Wednesday, Crown Prosecutor Matthew Scott speculated on how tragically this ordeal could have ended.

“Had the vehicle gone over the dock, the Crown can’t say if the ice would have held. It may have, it may not have,” Scott said.

Likewise, defence lawyer Charles Davison said he “shudders” to think about the alternatives.

Judge Donovan Molloy accepted the joint recommendation, consistent with the mandatory minimum for impaired operation of a motor vehicle for a first-time offender.

The offender will pay a $2,000 fine and be barred from driving for one year.

In delivering his sentence, Molloy told the 23-year old that he “won’t give (him) a lecture” because he’s sure the man has already replayed the events of the night many times and “I think the dangers are clear to you.”

“I can only imagine what a tragedy this would be for the community of Yellowknife to lose five young people in an incident like this,” Molloy said.

Natalie Pressman

Reporting courts and cops and general news, Natalie started with NNSL Media in 2020. Before moving to Yellowknife, Natalie worked as a community radio trainer in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First...

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