17 October 2012

The Bonita Purtill impaired driving case: unanswered questions and other matters

Updated Nov 8, 2012    See additional information at end of article about the case of Brian Crockett, recently resolved in court, and how that relates to the Bonita Purtill case.

I recall being told, years ago, “Don’t think!”  I was not supposed to question what was said or done, or to have opinions of my own, or try to search out the truth. But, eventually, I did anyway. And now I think that it couldn’t be good if the bond that is formed with another person, or employer or community is on the basis of only one person’s point of view. Besides not being a solid foundation for a relationship, it isn’t beneficial for the community either, to achieve social harmony at the expense of fairness or compassion where it is needed. Not feeling free to express one’s views on a subject, but simply agreeing with the status quo and taking one’s frustrations out on the most vulnerable people out there isn’t the answer.

I grew up in Woodstock. I was married and raised my children here. My parents are buried here. This news item, the Bonita Purtill impaired driving case, struck a chord with me, and not because I have ever been charged with impaired driving.

As I read the articles and watched the videos about the car accident of October, 2008, in Woodstock, Ontario, and the impaired driving trial of Bonita Purtill, I saw mainly one viewpoint being expressed, and it appears to be largely Mary Rodrigues’s which has been picked up by the media and the police department, not to mention MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). As far as I can see, it is the only viewpoint that is granted legitimacy. My aim here is to delve into articles and other sources to try to better understand the situation of the woman, Bonita Purtill, who has been cast in such an unfavourable light by the ‘friendly city.’

The accident – and a comparable case 

I discovered that earlier articles about the Purtill impaired driving case aren’t readily available on the internet, so I am relying mainly on later news pieces, and on videos of Mary Rodrigues, one of the parents of the infant Alex Fleming who died in the accident. The other parent was Michael Fleming, who was also in the car driven by his wife Mary Rodrigues, along with her two other children, when it was struck by the pickup truck driven by Bonita Purtill on October 14, 2008.

The accident was described as a t-bone, but I did not manage to find an image of the event to see how much damage appeared to the human eye, or where the truck impacted the car – was it directly on both doors, or mainly on the front (driver’s side) door?  Most photos are of the infant that died, before the event, with a few of the driver of the pickup, and more, including videos, of the infant’s mother and family spokesperson Mary Rodrigues. But I haven’t seen any photos of the Ford Fusion.

Other details are included in witness testimony, for instance, that Mary Rodrigues had to be extricated from her car using the ‘jaws of life,’ though Michael Fleming was able to get his infant son out of his car seat, from the back seat behind the driver’s  (Witness testifies smelling alcohol, June 21, 2012).  Alex’s fragility, being less than 5 months old, was also a factor, contributing to his vulnerability in the case of an accident. Car accidents are the leading cause of death due to injury in children and infants. (Child passenger safety, Jan 10, 2012).  The need for proper placing of car seats is essential for any responsible parent (Bonita Purtill and MADD: random breath tests and other approaches to impaired driving, Sept 27, 2012).

Questioning why Purtill would have wanted to get out of the truck following the accident seemed to me to be irrelevant. Wouldn’t most people want to get out of the vehicle under such circumstances? What was meant by this line of questioning?

I am left with questions that remain unanswered. Particularly, as I watch the videos and other interview material with Mary Rodrigues, and the comments by others, I question the impartiality of the trial. I see not just a coldness towards the driver Bonita Purtill, but something that goes beyond that, a strength of feeling usually reserved towards those who have committed cold-blooded murder. Why citizens of Woodstock would feel “thrilled” at the verdict and sentencing I don’t know (article - Bonita Purtill guilty on all charges, June 29, 2012). This kind of emotion surely isn’t appropriate in this type of case. Is it right, or good, to feel joy or excitement at seeing another’s life end up in ruins? Or is it considered fair – an eye for an eye?  To me, this kind of community reaction, and comments by Mary Rodrigues, seem to reflect an attitude of revenge more than justice.

Another case of impaired driving that shares points of comparison with the Purtill case is that of Rob Ramage, former NHL hockey player and driver of the car that killed Keith Magnuson, another defenceman, on Dec 15, 2003. Photos of the cars involved are online, as part of news stories. The visual is often more effective at drilling home truths than any amount of words can be, if the aim is to shock readers who are at risk of drinking and driving (Don't send Ramage to jail,' victim's family pleads, Dec 18, 2007; Rob Ramage dazed, confused after fatal crash, Sept 17, 2007).

Dazed Drivers

Both Purtill and Ramage were described as being dazed following their respective accidents. Noted at the time (Rob Ramage barely reacted to deadly crash: paramedic, Sept 18, 2007), and later on at the trial (Rob Ramage dazed, confused after fatal crash, Sept 17, 2007) as being a normal response to the situation, according to Ramage’s lawyer: “Defence attorney Brian Greenspan has suggested Ramage’s confusion about his passenger was consistent with a person briefly losing consciousness in a crash” (Rob Ramage sorry for tragedy: police, Sept 20, 2007).

In the case of Bonnie Purtill, the cross-examination of Dr Ronald Robins, an emergency room Dr, revealed that “disorientation and a lack of focus could be caused by ‘medical shock’ caused by the collision” (Ex denies domestic violence, June 26, 2012). However, in the closing arguments, Assistant Crown attorney Steve Guiler argued that “no evidence was presented that Purtill's lack of coherence on the night of the crash was caused by medical issues” (Final arguments, different stories, June 28, 2012).  The Assistant Crown attorney seemed to be arguing that only medical evidence counts, and not that social factors, such as being in a bad accident, seeing the Jaws of Life at work, and generally feeling stressed about the whole event, including presumably having just been involved in a family argument, could influence quality of speech and comprehension, and steadiness (see defence attorney Peter Kratzmann, in ‘Final arguments, different stories,’ June 28, 2012).

The speed of the car may have contributed to shock caused by a crash in Ramage‘s case as he had been travelling fast, according to Dean Sequeiro and his father, Walter “when it crossed the centre line and clipped their vehicle before smashing into the Pathfinder” (Rob Ramage dazed, confused after fatal crash, Sept 17, 2007).

While Ramage’s car was said to be travelling at a high speed, says one witness to the 2003 accident, the car crossing the median “like a rocket” and smashing into oncoming vehicles (Ramage heads back to court, Feb 28, 2010). The pickup truck Bonita Purtill was driving was travelling at a speed of 52 kilometres per hour, according to Constable David Weber (Purtill napped in cruiser, arresting officer says June 24, 2012).  Furthermore, mechanic Jeff Masters, on inspection of both the Purtill pickup and Rodrigues’s Fusion, testified that both were “in good working condition, including brakes and tires. Both vehicles would have easily passed a safety inspection.”

The survivors 

I have seen next to nothing about Purtill that is unrelated to the claims she made or the trial itself. Any family, except for her daughter, is scarcely mentioned, and the daughter only referred to in passing, to note that she sat behind her mother throughout the trial (Bonita Purtill guilty on all charges, June 29, 2012).

Woodstock Police Chief Rod Freeman and Sgt. Marvin Massacar, the officer in charge of the case, acknowledged the emotional cost of the accident for all involved, Freeman saying “there are no winners in this at all,” and that “many people suffered, including the families of the victim and the family of the accused” (Bonita Purtill guilty on all charges, June 29, 2012).  I’m not so sure, however, that I agree with Freeman’s comment that “Certainly Alexander was the core victim” and “What I found is it just ripples out.”

Alex was the main accident victim, but placing him at the centre of the entire event may not be accurate. Trying to explain others’ emotional turmoil and life change as rippling out from Alex doesn’t even begin to capture the magnitude of the event and the different life changes each survivor will experience in years to come.

I don’t imagine Rob Ramage sees the experience he has been through as a mere ripple. Rather, he is usually placed at the centre, while the victim of his accident – Keith Magnusson - has ended up in the margins. It’s only because Alex was a baby, and our society adores babies, traditionally seeing their lives as most important of all, that he has been raised to this status in Woodstock, everything else being seen as secondary.

The impaired driving case of NHL hockey player Rob Ramage, originating in the 2003 accident, has focused mainly on Ramage and his future, at least in the media. Justice David Doherty remarked about Ramage, “ . . .this is a person who – it's not just that he's been a law-abiding citizen. He's been a remarkable citizen in many ways. And, if you look at sentencing in a human way ... why doesn't that (history) drive it to the low end?” (Judges question Rob Ramage's sentence, Mar 2, 2010).  In response, I would suggest that this kind of logic leads to a two-tiered legal or punitive system based on status in society. It’s unfair if some people can have their sentences minimized, while those lacking family and community support, or career status, have to serve the full sentence. If the laws seem too harsh for some individuals, then they are too harsh for a good many others too. It may be more noticeable when someone who plays hockey for a living is expected to serve time, but the ordinary person who loses his job, and perhaps his home, is also hard done by under similar circumstances.

The effect of Rob Ramage’s conviction for impaired driving on his life and his family as well as on the accident victim’s family has been mentioned time and time again. Ramage was placed at the centre of the unfortunate event, due to his fame as a Canadian hockey player. Not only did his passenger, Keith Magnuson, die in the accident but Michelle Pacheco, the driver of another vehicle, also received serious injuries in the crash. Despite this, Ramage received much support and empathy, his lawyer, Brian Greenspan, adding that Magnuson's widow had called Ramage to give him her support” (Ramage found guilty in Magnuson's death, Oct 10, 2007). The family of the victim who died has forgiven Ramage, the fact he was a friend travelling in the same car making a difference, and not a complete stranger, as Bonita Purtill was to Mary Rodrigues and family (Rob Ramage appeals conviction, sentence in crash that killed Keith Magnuson, Feb 28, 2010). And as Morris Dalla Costa writes, “When he got behind the wheel, he changed the lives of many people forever” (Ramage can't escape agony of his actions, Aug 30, 2011).

Purtill, and the effect of the accident on her life, have been pushed to the sidelines, while Baby Alex takes centre stage in the aftermath of the tragedy. In a video filmed by reporters following the sentencing of Bonita Purtill, in Woodstock, Mary Rodrigues is interviewed about her thoughts on her family and Purtill’s apology (Bonita Purtill's Sentencing – video, Sept 19, 2012). While Rodigues continues to interpret Purtill’s thoughts and intentions (on apologising and apparent lack of remorse), and focuses on her own family, Purtill and her family are left seeing their own life tragedies as somehow hardly meaningful at all, except to be used as an example to others by MADD (MADD stood by Baby Alex’s family, July 5, 2012), and by the police (CTV News London Tonight at 6, Sentencing of Bonita Purtill, Sept 19, 2012).

Trial delays 

Four years may seem like a long time from the time of the accident to the end of the trial, but it was that long with the Rob Ramage case too (2003-3007) and not just the Bonita Purtill case (2008-2012). According to Steve Simmons, writing on the Ramage case (Justice system stalled in Ramage case, Sept 12, 2006), Ramage’s lawyer Brian Greenspan may have been working on another case during this time, but other than that, there seemed to be no explanation. The reason given for the delays in the Purtill case were that she changed lawyers – more than once – and thus was unprepared (Woodstock Family must wait for justice, Dec 6, 2010; Woodstock trial delayed again, Oct 18, 2011).

The judge, Superior Court Justice Thomas Heeney, questioned Purtill, saying, “Why is it you waited until the 11th hour to fire your lawyer?”, to which Purtill responded, “It took this long for it to become clear to me; I needed other representation for the trial” (Another delay dismays victims, Sept 9, 2011). Whether this was seen as a legitimate response or not – or even a proper line of questioning – is hard to judge, and it would be impossible for readers to know the circumstances surrounding the firing of the lawyers. Rob Ramage, whose case also took four years to come to a verdict stage, had two high profile lawyers - Brian Greenspan and Seth Weinstein - looking after his concerns.

Later, the reason for further delay of the Purtill trial was a pressing murder trial that was being held – the Robinson murder of Clifford Fair (Trial set for woman charged in death of Baby Alex, Nov 7, 2011). Tara Bowie elaborated on problems that year, saying, “Although many cases came to an end, it was year of appearances, delays and legal wrangling for three of the highest profile cases in Oxford County history (The verdict on 2011, Dec 29, 2011). Circumstances – and chance – led to Bonita Purtill and the family of the baby, Alex, being caught up in the middle of all this.

Meanwhile, the mother of Alex, the baby who died, expressed her frustration: “It’s been three years . . . I can’t imagine why it’s taking so long, Everything is based on her. Where is Alex in all of this?” (Another delay dismays victims, Sept 9, 2011).

Separating the legal from the emotional

Having to rely on news reports of what happened doesn’t provide a thorough account of events, and the Purtill case, as reported to the public, is lacking in details necessary for understanding. What’s more, from appearances, there may have been a lack in the information provided to the judge.  See as follows:

“In sentencing Purtill to six years and eight months in prison, Justice Kelly Gorman noted the author of a pre-sentence report wrote Purtill insisted on minimizing and justifying her actions and failed to take full responsibility for the offence, which she found very troubling”  (Six years, eight months for Purtill, Sept 19, 2012; Purtill sentenced to six years, eight months, Sept 19, 2012).

Since Justice Kelly used the pre-sentence report in determining the sentence, I believe it would be useful and fairer to know who wrote it, and what exactly was meant by these statements.  Are the authors of pre-sentence reports required to sign their names to their work? Is it their job to interpret the intentions of the defendant? Purtill isn’t the first person to plead not guilty and offer an explanation, while still feeling remorseful for harm caused.

Rob Ramage also fought his conviction, and the means by which he was found to be impaired (Rob Ramage appeals conviction, sentence in crash that killed Keith Magnuson, Feb 28, 2010), while also declaring much remorse for his actions, and yes, even taking full responsibility for what happened (Killer drunk driver Rob Ramage granted parole from prison, May 8, 2011).  The behaviours – or claims –  were not seen by all as being contradictory in his case; instead, they were seen as normal under the circumstances, or perhaps attributed to him at different points in the complicated process. It is possible for a person to be sorry for having caused another’s death, and offer to take responsibility for it, yet still want to spend as little time in prison as necessary for having done so (Ramage can't escape agony of his actions, Aug 30, 2011).

Not everyone agrees with this way of looking at it, however. Brian Thiel examines this in more detail, asking “Why does the “forgiveness factor” weigh so heavily in these proceedings? It's astounding that the families found the strength to forgive those who broke the law  . . .  But the point remains: These people broke the law. Why shouldn't they have to serve some kind of sentence?” (Rummaging Through Rob Ramage's Suit, Jan 18, 2008).

It’s mainly in the Bonita Purtill case that the complexities raised due to the demands of the law and one’s personal feelings become problematic, as signs that she was not truly remorseful. The victim’s mother, Mary Rodrigues, said she tried to help Purtill understand “all the pain, anger and grief we have been going through . . . then maybe she would get a better understanding of what life has been like since. But I feel like it wouldn’t matter one bit to her at all.” If it seems that way it may be because Purtill‘s own life is in such turmoil that she is unable to give Rodrigues the attention she seeks (Six years, eight months for Purtill, Sept 19, 2012).  Moreover, due to legal aspects of the case, apparently Purtill was not permitted to make contact with the Rodrigues-Fleming family (Six years, eight months for Purtill, Sept 19, 2012).

Police Chief Rod Freeman, viewing Purtill’s sentence as being at “the high end of the spectrum” is reported as saying, “I think it’s very appropriate due to the depth of the tragedy. I do believe it’s a significant sentence,” adding, “How do you achieve satisfaction for the loss of a four-month-old? The deepest part of the tragedy is that a baby’s life was lost” (Six years, eight months for Purtill, Sept 19, 2012).  It was tragic that a baby’s life was lost, but does this mean that if it had been an adult that had been killed in the accident that it wouldn’t have mattered quite as much?


In Sept, 2012, the trial behind him, Woodstock Police Chief Rod Freeman, co-chair of Safe Communities Woodstock, talked about the previous four years for Woodstock, saying how challenging they had been, and mentioning the three major crimes – “the drunk driving death of Baby Alex Fleming, the murder and dismemberment of Clifford Fair, and the abduction and murder of eight-year-old Victoria Stafford” (Putting tragedy behind Woodstock, and safety in front, Sept 24, 2012). I’m sure, from previous comments, that nothing was meant by this except that they were all serious crimes, but from the perspective of Bonita Purtill, it might seem that she is being placed in the same category as murderers.

Perpetuating the analogy are the remarks of Mary Rodrigues, who has a new friend in the mother of Tori Stafford. “Tara and I have found great support with each other,” she says, adding, “You don't ever want to meet someone whose child was killed because it is not something you would even want to wish upon your worst enemy. But that is what happened to both of us and it's nice to have that extra support” (Woodstock Family must wait for justice, Dec 6, 2010). But rather than identify completely with someone whose child was murdered, it would also be more accurate to acknowledge that it was an accident that killed the infant Alex, not that he was intentionally killed as Tori Stafford was.

Purtill has been labelled a “convicted killer” by the press (see CTV News London Tonight at 6 - video, Sept 19, 2012), and “impaired killer” (Impaired Killer Sentenced – video, Sept 19, 2012).  The only mention I saw of Rob Ramage that was overtly negative in this manner was on the website Cancrime, where Ramage is referred to in the title as “killer drunk driver,” though not in the article itself (Killer drunk driver Rob Ramage granted parole from prison, May 8, 2011).

While using the term ‘killer’ might be proper according to the dictionary definition, the word does imply intent as well as continuity, in other words, the expectation that the person will kill again. Purtill, or Ramage, could even be serial impaired drivers, but that doesn’t make them murderers.

After the trial of Bonita Purtill ended, Rodrigues spoke of her other children, saying, “As far as they know, a woman killed baby Alex, and now we get to go home and tell them that she’s never going to hurt us anymore” (Baby Alex's Family, Police Relieved at Guilty Verdict, June 29, 2012). For them to hear Bonita Purtill being spoken of as being in the same category as the murderer Michael Rafferty would make them fearful, no doubt, if the same language were used in front of them. It implies that Purtill was lying in wait for the baby Alex. It implies intent, and it implies Purtill might try it again, if she were to be released from prison.  This distorted use of language, if it had an effect on the Rodrigues-Fleming children as well as on the community, could only lead to increased anxiety and fear for those who take it to heart, rather than see Purtill was what she is, a woman who drove drunk, and by accident killed someone – a baby.

Verdict – guilty as charged

Both Bonita Purtill and Rob Ramage were found guilty as charged, Purtill of 6 charges, “impaired driving causing death and bodily harm, criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm, and refusing to provide a breath sample” (Baby Alex's Family, Police Relieved at Guilty Verdict, June 29, 2012). Ramage was found guilty of  5 charges, “impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, two counts of dangerous driving causing death and having a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit” (Hockey captain found guilty – video, Oct 11, 2007).

In another piece published the same day as the Purtill verdict, Adam J. Nyp reports what was said about the difference between criminal negligence and dangerous driving:

“In dealing with the counts relating to impaired driving causing the death of 4-month-old Alex Fleming and bodily harm suffered by Mary Rodrigues, the jury’s main question is: Was Ms. Purtill’s ability to operate a motor vehicle impaired?
 . . .On the Criminal Negligence counts, it is defined as the reckless disregard for the lives and safety of others. It's more than just carelessness, it’s a “substantial departure from what a reasonable person would do.” And it can be that she was either aware of this recklessness, or, she simply gave no thought of what risk existed.
 . . .Justice Gorman told the jury [it] can find Purtill not guilty of Criminal Negligence, but guilty of a lesser charge of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm. Or, they could find her not guilty of both.
 . . .The final two counts that deal with refusing to provide a breath sample, one of them deals with the fact that a death or serious injury was caused by the crash. The question here is whether Purtill was aware the crash she caused had harmed or killed someone” (Deliberations Underway in Purtill Trial, June 29, 2012).

I question why Purtill was led away in leg shackles as well as handcuffs when she was found to be guilty of the charges, and then when she was sentenced (see Impaired Killer Sentenced - video, Sept 19, 2012). Was it feared that she might abscond and leave the area or the country – do a ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ to support herself, but without the Clyde? I haven’t read about her background, or her current situation, or where she might have other friends or family besides her daughter. Really, was that the reason she was shackled, because she might have run away?

In another case of impaired driving, in Toronto, Jose Lugo-Alonso, a Cuban cigar executive, was sentenced to two years in prison, after which time he will be deported back to Cuba. He wasn’t wearing handcuffs or leg shackles (and presumably he didn’t disappear on route to prison), but I wonder how a judge determines who needs to be shackled and who can exit the court house at least appearing respectable and dignified (Impaired driver gets 2 years for injuring cyclist, Jan 06, 2012). Lugo-Alonso expressed “genuine remorse for the accident,” and offered a written apology which was accepted by the injured cyclist, who said in the video, “I don't doubt that he feels remorse. He’s a human being. The problem is when we get to the point when people are apologizing and there’s a criminal charge it’s too late in the game”  (Cyclist speaks out following drunk driving crash, Jan 9, 2012).

Apology and forgiveness

Bonita Purtill apologised to the family of the infant, Alex, just before being sentenced by the judge (Six years, eight months for Purtill, Sept 19, 2012). She is reported to have said, “As a mother I cannot fathom the pain you feel, that I’m responsible for. . . I humbly pray that someday I can earn your forgiveness for the selfish choices I made.” Purtill probably says “someday” with the realization that earning Rodrigues’s forgiveness isn’t going to happen all at once, if it is a possibility at all, and probably can’t happen while she is in prison.

Purtill claims she had been unable to state her feelings in public before this, saying she was banned from contacting the family as a condition of her bail. Now, at this time, she tells them, “I desperately wanted to tell you how deeply sorry I am from the depth of my tortured soul” (Six years, eight months for Purtill, Sept 19, 2012).

Despite this attempt to show her remorse, her apology wasn’t accepted by Rodrigues, the mother of the infant who died (see Bonita Purtill's Sentencing – video, Sept 19, 2012). The reasons seem to have to do with an apparent lack of sincerity as perceived by Rodrigues, probably combined with the fact that Purtill pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Rob Ramage also pleaded not guilty to the charges facing him, while at the same time expressing remorse, but that didn’t make a difference to those who saw it as an accident, and unintentional. Those who supported him – his family, Magnuson’s family, friends, community, and other hockey players –  let it be known that they were sympathetic (Don't send Ramage to jail,' victim's family pleads, Dec 18, 2007; Ramage verdict shocks former teammates, Oct 10, 2007).

On the day he was found guilty of the charges of “impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, two counts of dangerous driving causing death and having a blood-alcohol level over the legal limit” Ramage said, “It is a tragedy for all involved, including my family” (Rob Ramage found guilty of 5 charges, Oct 11, 2007).  As far as I know, Purtill didn’t get to tell how the tragedy has affected her life and her family’s. For the most part, for the community of Woodstock it was a one-sided tragedy only.

A piece by Ian Gillespie delves into the tragedy from the point of view of Mary Rodrigues (Infant's death hurts a year later, Oct 9, 2009), in the same kind of way that writers might examine the life of Rob Ramage from a sympathetic perspective (Ramage can't escape agony of his actions, Aug 30, 2011).  In another piece, Randy Richmond almost achieves a sensitive approach to Bonita Purtill’s situation, but not quite  (Surviving in a dark hole at EMDC, Sept 21, 2012). Too many articles have already influenced the lens through which Purtill is viewed. Richmond writes, “The remorse she finally showed Wednesday did not impress reporters who followed her case from the beginning.” Neither, apparently, did her story of having been in a ‘domestic violence incident’ that day. But it wasn’t the case that reporters were following; they appeared to be following Mary Rodrigues, whose confidence, determination, and charisma have attracted followers from all walks of life.


Mary Rodrigues talks about her feelings after seeing Purtill brought into court, saying, “It's kind of sad to say, but a little bit of satisfaction. You know, that she’s not out there hurting anybody else. I guess that’s the price you pay for what she did” (Purtill Sentencing Pushed Back 10 Days), Sept 7, 2012.

While the Rob Ramage trial was still in progress, Ramage’s lawyers, Greenspan and Weinstein, said that nothing would be accomplished by imprisoning him and suggested that he get to travel around North America, talking to students about the dangers of drinking and driving. The judge, however, felt that jailing him would be a more effective way of bringing home that message to the public. (Ramage heads back to court, Feb 28, 2010).

In May, 2012, Rob Ramage passed a marker in his return to a normal life, being granted full parole (Former Leaf captain granted full parole, May 18, 2012). Meanwhile, MADD has been intent on making changes to laws on parole, after Ramage’s early parole privileges resulted in him serving only 10 months of a four-year sentence (Review sentences: MADD, May 06, 2011).  And more news: Patrick Callahan reports that Ramage will not be returning to his job as assistant coach for the London Knights (Bench boogie, July 3, 2012).  More recently, Ramage spoke at a Mission Services recovery breakfast about the effect on his life (NHL's Rob Ramage gives moving speech at recovery breakfast, Sept 27, 2012).

MADD now has a new poster child for impaired drivers, the infant Alexander who died in the impaired driving accident which involved Bonita Purtill. Alex, referred to as ‘Baby Alex’ can be seen posing with his spokesperson mother in Scene magazine (MADD stood by Baby Alex’s family, July 5, 2012).

After being convicted, Bonita Purtill was led off, handcuffed and shackled, to await sentencing, a reminder to others of what could happen to them. Rodrigues continues to interpret Purtill’s feelings, or more precisely, to claim she has none, saying “The way she’s been acting in court this week, and last week in court - she has no emotion whatsoever. No emotion. It’s like she has no regrets for what she’s done” (Alex was killed by an impaired driver, QMI Video, July 2, 2012).

On the final day in court, September 19, 2012, Purtill was sentenced, to 7 years in prison minus 4 months served time. As she is led away, again with handcuffs and legs shackled, we can hear a voice calling out to her, I love you mom (Bonita Purtill's Sentencing – video, Sept 19, 2012).

Additional information: added Nov 8, 2012

Another case of impaired driving from the same community - Woodstock, Ontario - that of Brian Crockett, Crown attorney, has raised interest in the local newspapers after Crockett was fined for (convicted of?) impaired driving in August, 2012. Sun News published the same article in two different communities, drawing comments from readers about the two Woodstock cases – Brian Crockett’s and Bonita Purtill’s, and the treatment each one received (See Oxford Crown attorney Brian Crockett pleads guilty to impaired driving, London Free Press, Nov 7, 2012; Oxford Crown attorney Brian Crockett pleads guilty to impaired driving, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Nov 7, 2012).

Note: Comments are welcomed!
If any links are incorrect or not working  - or missing, I would appreciate hearing about it.

Sue McPherson
s.a.mcpherson @ sympatico.ca

List of References

‘Alex was killed by an impaired driver,’ QMI Video, Article By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, July 2, 2012

Another delay dismays victims, By Heather Rivers, QMI Agency, London Free Press, Sept 9, 2011

Baby Alex's Family, Police Relieved at Guilty Verdict, 1047 Heart FM News, June 29, 2012

Bench boogie, By Patrick Callan, The London Free Press, July 3, 2012

Bonita Purtill and MADD: random breath tests and other approaches to impaired driving, By Sue McPherson, Sue’s Views on the News, Sept 27, 2012

Bonita Purtill guilty on all charges - article, By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel Review, June 29, 2012

Bonita Purtill's Sentencing – video, Heart FM News, Sept 19, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPmvigkQz6Y

Child passenger safety, Safe Kids Canada, Jan 10, 2012

CTV News London Tonight at 6 – video, Sentencing of Bonita Purtill, You Tube, Sept 19, 2012
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tuhDU-aqTY&feature=related . Retrieved  Oct 3, 2012

Cyclist speaks out following drunk driving crash, By Ashleigh Smollet, CityNews.ca, Jan 9, 2012
Video - http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/video/179572

Deliberations Underway in Purtill Trial, By Adam J. Nyp, 1047 Heart FM News, June 29, 2012

  Don't send Ramage to jail,' victim's family pleads, Bob Mitchell, Staff Reporter, Toronto Star, Dec 18, 2007

Ex denies domestic violence, QMI Agency, London Free Press, Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Final arguments, different stories, By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Brantford Expositor, June 28, 2012. http://www.brantfordexpositor.ca/2012/06/28/final-arguments-different-stories

Former Leaf captain granted full parole, By Joe Fantauzzi, Yorkregion.com, May 18, 2012

Hockey captain found guilty, By Michael Dick, CBC News, You tube video, Oct 11, 2007

Impaired driver gets 2 years for injuring cyclist, By Peter Small. The Star, Jan 06, 2012

Impaired Killer Sentenced – video, Cristina Howorun, CTV London, Sept 19, 2012
http://www.ctvlondon.ca/tag/bonita-putrill/. Retrieved Oct 12, 2012

Infant's death hurts a year later, By Ian Gillespie, London Free Press, Oct 9, 2009

Judges question Rob Ramage's sentence, By Tracey Tyler, Legal Affairs Reporter, The Star, Mar 2, 2010

Justice system stalled in Ramage case, By Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun, Sept 12, 2006

Killer drunk driver Rob Ramage granted parole from prison, By Rob, CanCrime.com, May 8, 2011

MADD stood by Baby Alex’s family, Scene Magazine p 6, July 5, 2012

NHL's Rob Ramage gives moving speech at recovery breakfast, Mission Services of London, Sept 27, 2012. http://missionservices.ca/news/nhls-rob-ramage-gives-moving-speech-at-recovery-breakfast/

Oxford Crown attorney Brian Crockett pleads guilty to impaired driving

Woodstock Sentinel-Review Staff
London Free Press
Wednesday, Nov 7, 2012
http://samcpherson.homestead.com/files/Miscellaneous/2012_Nov_LFP_OxfordCrown_AttorneyBrianCrockett.doc includes the 46 comments made to the article in the LFP

Oxford Crown attorney Brian Crockett pleads guilty to impaired driving
Woodstock Sentinel-Review Staff
Woodstock S-R
Wednesday, Nov 7, 2012
http://samcpherson.homestead.com/files/Miscellaneous/2012_Nov_SR_OxfordCrownAttorneyBrianCrockett.doc includes the 31 comments made to the article in the SR

Purtill napped in cruiser, arresting officer says, By Tara Bowie, Wooodstock Sentinel Review. June 24, 2012. http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2012/06/22/purtill-napped-in-cruiser

Purtill sentenced to six years, eight months, By Heather Rivers, Woodstock SR, Sept 19, 2012

Purtill Sentencing Pushed Back 10 Days, By Adam J Nyp, 1047 Heart FM, Sept 7, 2012

Putting tragedy behind Woodstock, and safety in front, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Sept 24, 2012. http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2012/09/24/putting-tragedy-behind-woodstock-and-safety-in-front

Ramage can't escape agony of his actions, By Morris Dalla Costa, QMI Agency, Toronto Sun, Aug 30, 2011. http://www.torontosun.com/2011/08/30/ramage-cant-escape-agony-of-his-actions

Ramage found guilty in Magnuson's death, By Bob Mitchell, The Star, Oct 10, 2007

Ramage heads back to court, By Tracey Tyler, The Star, Feb 28, 2010

Ramage verdict shocks former teammates, By Allan Maki, Globe and Mail, Oct 10, 2007, updated Apr 03, 2009. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/ramage-verdict-shocks-former-teammates/article1084350/

Review sentences: MADD, By Joe Fantauzzi, Yorkregion.com, May 06, 2011

Rob Ramage appeals conviction, sentence in crash that killed Keith Magnuson, By Frank Gunn, Canadian Press, The Hockey News, Feb 28, 2010. http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/31805-Rob-Ramage-appeals-conviction-sentence-in-crash-that-killed-Keith-Magnuson.html

Rob Ramage barely reacted to deadly crash: paramedic, The Canadian Press, CBC Sports, Sept 18, 2007

Rob Ramage dazed, confused after fatal crash, Canadian Press, CBC Sports, Sept 17, 2007

Rob Ramage found guilty of 5 charges, CBC Sports, Oct 11, 2007

Rob Ramage sorry for tragedy: police, The Canadian Press, CBC Sports, Sept 20, 2007

Rummaging Through Rob Ramage's Suit, By Bryan Thiel (Senior Writer), Bleacher Report, Jan 18, 2008

Six years, eight months for Purtill, London Free Press, Sept 19, 2012

Surviving in a dark hole at EMDC, By Randy Richmond, London Free Press, Woodstock Sentinel Review, Sept 21, 2012. http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2012/09/21/surviving-in-a-dark-hole-at-emdc

Trial set for woman charged in death of Baby Alex, By Tara Bowie, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Nov 7, 2011. http://www.woodstocksentinelreview.com/2011/11/07/trial-set-for-woman-charged-in-death-of-baby-alex

The verdict on 2011, By Tara Bowie, Woodstock Sentinel-Review, Dec 29, 2011

Witness testifies smelling alcohol, Brantford Expositor, June 21, 2012

Woodstock family must wait for justice, By Carla Garrett, Brantford Expositor, Dec 6, 2010

Woodstock trial delayed again, QMI Agency, Oct 18, 2011