The lawyer for a boat driver who failed to remain at the scene after hitting and seriously hurting a woman in the water has asked that his client be spared jail time.

Dillon Snowden, 25, had previously pleaded guilty to a failure to stop at the scene of an accident charge in Beausejour. A sentencing hearing was held in Winnipeg Thursday.

The incident happened on July 16, 2016, when Jessica Muench was tubing at Nutimik Lake, court heard. Muench, 24 at the time, fell in the water and was hit by another boat, driven by Snowden, who had been drinking with friends that day. The propeller of his boat sliced her deeply in the leg, and Muench had to be airlifted to Winnipeg. She has required extensive care and rehabilitation ever since.

At the time, people in the boat Muench was being towed by went to her rescue, and both boats drove to a dock in the area, where people attempted to slow Muench’s bleeding while waiting for an ambulance, court heard.

However, there wasn’t room for Snowden’s boat to dock, so he beached his boat on the sand at a nearby swimming area, eventually deciding with friends to return to his campsite. 

Court heart Snowden turned himself in a day later, after RCMP issued a news release.  

At a sentencing hearing Thursday, the Crown attorney said Muench may never fully recover from her injury, saying she had undergone five surgeries with another still to go, and that it has had a serious impact on her ability to carry out day-to-day activities.

Muench read a victim impact statement to the court, saying that she is “no longer the confident person” she used to be, that she has developed anxiety, and that emotionally, “the look on someone’s face after they see my leg is probably what hurts the most.” Physically, she described how the shape of her leg has changed, how reconstructive surgeries left her body scarred in multiple places and how she experienced extensive pain. She also said she is a year behind in her university studies. 

The Crown suggested Snowden, 25, should be sentenced to three months jail time and a year of being prohibited from driving a boat.

Snowden’s lawyer, Danny Gunn, acknowledged that the outcome of the incident has been “a nightmare” for Muench and her family. He described Snowden as being community-minded, kind and gentle, and said “his courage failed him” the day of the collision.  

Snowden addressed the court directly, saying he was “wholeheartedly sorry” and that Muench “doesn’t deserve any of this.” He said he made an “irresponsible decision” the day of the collision.

Gunn suggested Snowden be spared jail time and instead be sentenced to two years’ probation, 200 hours of community service and a $7500 fine. He agreed with the Crown’s suggested to ban Snowden from driving a boat for a year.

Judge Ryan Rolston said he needs time to consider the case. Snowden will be sentenced on Oct. 23, 2017.