Ryan McCracken photo
An RCMP member leads a suspect away from the scene of the Racette School crash on Oct. 25 morning. Richard Benson, a 46-year-old St. Paul man, is facing charges of criminal negligence causing death and bodily harm, among other charges.
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Man faces charges of criminal negligence
Brother suspects seizure led to crash
Oct 30, 2012 12:15 pm |
A St. Paul man, Richard Edward Benson, is facing charges of criminal negligence causing death, criminal negligence causing bodily harm, possession of marijuana and resisting arrest after a vehicle crash on Oct. 25 that killed a 11-year-old girl and injured several others.
RCMP Chief Supt. Randy McGinnis described the 46-year-old as “combative” when RCMP members took him into custody after the accident, but noted Benson was in a different mood on the following day.
“This morning, he was very remorseful, very apologetic of what has transpired and co-operated fully with our investigation,” he told reporters at a Friday media debriefing. Police were still waiting on an analysis of a blood sample to assess any potential impairments, he said.
At Benson’s court hearing on Monday, the matter of bail was put over to Thursday. Benson has a previous criminal record, including several driving offences; he is scheduled for trial in April, 2013 for dangerous driving charges stemming from April of 2011. He has also made headlines in the St. Paul Journal before, when the single father on Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) was working with his neighbours to try to fix up unlivable trailers in 2011.
He was also in the news when his house burned down due to arson in 2007. Community members from Elk Point and St. Paul rallied around Benson and his family at the time, collecting donations of clothing, food and store vouchers and more. Glen Avon School was one of those participating in the drive, as three of Benson’s children attended the school at the time.
Benson’s older brother, Ralph Benson, told the Journal that his brother suffers from seizures as a result of a severe beating 10 years ago and he is convinced Richard suffered a seizure at the time of the accident.
“(The seizures have) been coming on more lately,” he said. “He claimed new medicine was helping.”
According to Ralph, his brother “assured us everything was OK, but I didn’t like him driving, I don’t mind telling you.”
Ralph questioned why his brother had a driver’s license, given his medical history, saying it was a source of concern for the family. “The man has been having seizures for so long; how come his license wasn’t taken away?”
While he has been unable to speak with his brother directly since his arrest, Ralph said it appears his brother remembers little of what happened in the time leading up to the accident.
“I’m going by what his daughter says. He remembers dropping the kids off (at school) going to the post office, walking out and doesn’t remember anything.”
Ralph has witnessed his brother’s seizures in the past, saying he “he stiffens up like a board. He’s laid out there shaking, eyes roll back in his head.”
Ralph described his brother as a “good father,” raising nine children, five of his own and four stepchildren, with other family members also writing on the Journal’s Facebook page in support of Benson and asking people to listen to the facts of the case as they emerge.
“There’s lots of unanswered questions. The truth will come out,” Ralph said. “He’s my brother and I have to try to help him and I am there for him.”