‘So sorry:’ Man pleads guilty for gas-and-dash death of Thorsby gas station owner

‘So sorry:’ Man pleads guilty for gas-and-dash death of Thorsby gas station owner

Mitchell Robert Sydlowski was charged with second-degree murder, but the 29-year old pleaded guilty to the lesser offence

A man who was charged after an Alberta gas station owner was killed in a gas-and-dash apologized to the victim’s distraught family after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Ki Yun Jo, 54, was killed on Oct. 6, 2017, outside his Fas Gas station in Thorsby.

Mitchell Robert Sydlowski was charged with second-degree murder, but the 29-year old pleaded guilty to the lesser offence Friday during an online hearing at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Wetaskiwin.

An agreed statement of facts submitted in the case said Sydlowski killed Jo when he sped off in a stolen cube van without paying for $198 of fuel.

“The victim observed that the accused was going to leave without paying and went outside to confront him,” said Crown prosecutor Vince Pingitore, reading from the statement. “As the accused drove away with the van, the victim grabbed the passenger side mirror.”

He said Sydlowski fled the Fas Gas with Jo clinging on to the mirror and drove for about two blocks, before the vehicle swerved and Jo was tossed to the ground and run over by the van.

Sydlowski, who is from Spruce Grove, Alta., also pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene of a fatal accident.

Pingitore recommended a sentence of six to eight years, while Sydlowski’s defence lawyer, Kent Teskey, suggested it should be at the lower end of the Crown’s recommendation because of the guilty pleas.

Sydlowski told court that he accepts responsibility for Jo’s death and apologized to the man’s family as they watched the online hearing.

“I am so sorry for the pain I have caused your family,” he said, reading from a prepared letter. “I did not intend for any of this to happen.”

He said he’s using his time in prison to become a better person and to get help for his addictions.

“I am so sorry for your loss,” said Sydlowski.

In a victim impact statement read by the Crown, Jo’s daughter said he was “the most loving person in the world” and a man who always took care of his family.

“My life was simple and happy … and then I had the worst day of my life,” said Ka Yung Jo. “My dad was senselessly and cruelly taken away from me.

“Since then, my world has changed completely.”

She said she hasn’t been able to stop seeing her dad dead on the road.

She said that she, her mom and her brother had to take over the gas station and had a difficult time running the business. They ended up selling it and moving away from the town.

Her mom and her brother have also struggled, she said. Her dad’s death left her family financially unstable and heartbroken. It also made her angry.

“What I hated most was the man who ended my dad’s life,” she said.

“He killed my father and ruined me, my life, my family and everything.”

Shortly after Jo’s death, the Alberta government moved to bring in legislation requiring drivers to prepay before filling up at gas stations.

Ka Yung Jo said she hopes the law saves the lives of other retail workers.

“Alberta law has shown a strong will of improvement after my father’s death.”

She said she hopes the court case becomes an example of how the justice system can work.

“This sentence will not certainly bring my father back to us, but there is a hope it will keep our world safer.”

Justice John William Hopkins reserved his sentencing decision until Sept. 18.

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

Court

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

The Town of Blackfalds voted to implement a mandatory mask bylaw on Nov. 24. It is currently not mandatory across the province of Alberta, just in select municipalities. Photo coutesy of the Town of Blackfalds
Town of Blackfalds announces new facility closures and updates

The changes come after the province declared a public state of emergency on Tuesday

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said the 500 deaths from COVID-19 in the province are a tragic milestone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta hits ‘tragic milestone’ with more COVID-19 deaths

Province up to 500 COVID-19 deaths, adds 1,265 cases

(Black Press file photos)
City of Lacombe announces new public health measures

The city is adopting recommendations that were announced by the provincial government yesterday

Kyle Charles poses for a photo in Edmonton on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Marvel Entertainment, the biggest comic book publisher in the world, hired the 34-year-old First Nations illustrator as one of the artists involved in Marvel Voice: Indigenous Voices #1 in August. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
VIDEO: Indigenous illustrator of new Marvel comic hopes Aboriginal women feel inspired

Kyle Charles says Indigenous women around the world have reached out

The Red Deer Games Foundation has made changes to its grant program as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo supplied)
Red Deer Games Foundation adjusts grant program due to COVID-19 pandemic

The foundation postponed the spring 2020 grant program due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

Most Read