Douglas and Joan Foster.
John Anstie, impaired by a cocktail of powerful drugs, never even tried to steer away before crashing into Joan and Doug Foster’s Honda Civic on a December night in 2016.His reaction time was slowed so radically by the fentanyl and Xanax in his system that he also didn’t brake before his car collided head-on at high speed with the Fosters, killing them and forever changing the lives of those who loved the Renfrew couple.Ontario Superior Court Justice Anne London-Weinstein, in a decision delivered Tuesday to a courtroom packed with the couple’s family, found Anstie guilty of two counts each — one for Joan and one for Doug — of impaired driving causing death, dangerous driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death.On Dec. 4, 2016, Joan, 66, and Doug Foster, 69, were driving back to their home in Renfrew after visiting family in Ottawa. They made an “everyday decision” to get on the roads that night that would have tragic consequences, the judge said. The couple had initially planned to stay overnight at their daughter’s but decided to drive home because there was snow in the forecast the following day, their family previously said.Anstie, then 24, was driving along March Road as he headed home to Kanata after playing video games at a friend’s in Almonte. It was a clear night.
John Anstie leaves the Ottawa courthouse on Tuesday.
Errol McGihon /
Just before 9:30 p.m., Anstie’s rented black Nissan began drifting across the centre line on March Road, he was travelling northbound while the Fosters, with Joan driving, were in the southbound lane. Data from the Nissan showed that Anstie didn’t even brake, never tried to swerve or steer away from the head-on collision. He was travelling about 116 km/h in a 60-zone, nearly twice the posted speed limit. Joan tried to steer away and braked. At the time of impact, the Foster’s car was only travelling 14 km/h. It flipped over into a ditch. The Fosters were taken to hospital but were later both pronounced dead.Anstie, too, was injured and was also taken to hospital. A blood sample taken there showed fentanyl, a potent opioid; Xanax, a prescribed anxiety medication; and THC in his system.Anstie was a longtime opioid drug user who, before the collision, was taking methadone to treat his addiction. He had relapsed two weeks before the crash. Two capped syringes and a bottle of saline were found on the front seat of the Nissan, but were never tested.His defence lawyer Michael Crystal argued at trial that the blood sample taken at hospital was only drawn after Anstie had been given fentanyl for the injuries he sustained during the crash. Crown prosecutor Julien Lalande, however, argued the drugs in his system were all ingested before the deadly collision.A blood requisition form, once thought lost, had resurfaced partway through the trial with an answer. Blood was drawn at 10:30 p.m., pain medicine was given at 10:31 p.m. The sample arrived at the lab at 10:35 p.m. The drugs were in his system long before the hospital gave him any and the hospital doesn’t even administer Xanax, which comes with a warning that it can cause sedation and drowsiness and shouldn’t be used when driving.Anstie’s defence had also argued that an undiagnosed sleep disorder may have influenced his driving that night. He was diagnosed with the disorder in 2017, but even if he did have it the night of the crash, Justice London-Weinstein ruled, his drug consumption was already impairing his driving.The Fosters were killed shortly after their 40th wedding anniversary and had just finished building their dream home just outside of Renfrew after lengthy careers running family businesses.Doug had spent his entire career working at Foster Construction, a company his father started. He retired after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.Joan had retired in May 2016 after nearly four decades of running her own hair salon in Renfrew.Sharon McBride, Joan’s younger sister, told reporters outside of court that the ruling “brings a measure of closure to a long and painful journey for our family.“We commend the Crown and law enforcement for their diligence in pursuing justice for Joan and Doug,” McBride said. “Our hope is that the sentencing will reflect the gravity of this crime and send a strong message about the terrible costs of drug-impaired driving so that other families will be spared a similar catastrophe.”
Sharon McBride, along with family members, speaks with the media outside of the Ottawa courthouse on Tuesday.
Errol McGihon /
Anstie was charged in March 2017. He remains out on bail until a sentence is imposed. His bail conditions included a ban on driving or possessing or consuming any illegal drugs.Anstie left the Ottawa courthouse and refused to answer any questions about the ruling, including whether he intends to appeal or if he had anything to say to the Foster family. He walked with his mother to city hall before lighting up a cigarette.No date has yet been set for sentencing firstname.lastname@example.org/shaaminiwhy ALSO IN THE NEWS:Third incident of dead fish found in Lièvre RiverAnalysis: Why Ontario’s government of rapid-fire change might alter its approachFireflies are flooding Ottawa with light this summer