Trio pleads guilty to Dorchester party antics that killed Riley Shannon, 21

If ever there was a cautionary tale for parents to relay to their fearless teenagers, it’s this one: a stupid idea can become deadly.

Riley Shannon, 21, died trying to stop three buddies from joyriding on a John Deere skid steer, akin to a Bobcat, that belonged to his friend’s dad.

They weren’t supposed to be driving it. They were told to get off it and leave it alone.

Shannon was run over. The three teens didn’t stick around to help him.

And that’s going to give each of them a criminal record.

Adam Sinden, 19, Ryan Esler, 19, and Trent Weller, 20, all of Thames Centre, each pleaded guilty Wednesday to failing to remain at an accident to offer assistance after their boneheaded activities on March11, 2017 -writes

They were subdued in a London courtroom, dressed in their best suits, quietly listening to how one dumb decision turned tragic, while benches filled with family and friends quietly sobbed.

Assistant Crown attorney George Christakos outlined the facts of the case to Ontario Court Justice Wendy Harris Bentley.

All three accused were teens attending a party at the Dorchester home of their friend, Amanda Murray. The house is set back down a 500-metre laneway through a wooded area. There were 12 other people at the party. Shannon was an acquaintance.

Sinden, Esler and Weller got to the party about 11p.m. and started or consumed one beer each. Just before midnight, they headed out to what the family called “the toy shed,” a garage where the Murrays stored recreational vehicles and equipment.

Weller, Christakos said, jumped into the cab of the skid steer, started it and moved it less than a metre. Murray told him to stop, get out and leave it alone. Weller, Christakos said, complied.

Sinden, who Christakos said had experience with machinery, said he would move the machine back to its proper place, so Murray could shut the overhead garage door.

Instead, Sinden backed the skid steer out, with Weller holding onto the side. Esler jumped up on the front-mounted snow blade, standing up and leaning on the cab.

Sinden began to drive down the long driveway toward the road.

Murray wanted them to stop. She called Shannon, who was in the house, from her cellphone.

Shannon and another friend, Reece Maddocks, went outside to see the three buddies heading down the lane.

Sinden was pushing snow with the front blade with Esler still standing on the top edge, his back against the front window.

Maddocks later told police the skid steer was moving slowly and he and Shannon were able to catch up to it speed-walking.

Maddocks tried to knock on the side of it, but wasn’t comfortable getting too close and held back.Shannon knocked on the window. By then, Weller had jumped off and was walking behind the machine.

Shannon banged on the metal screen on the cab’s window. When he did, his right foot became caught between the blade and the front wheel track.

The skid steer moved forward another 400 to 500 metres and Shannon’s other ankle was caught in the machine’s track. He was pulled in from his ankle right to his shoulders, Christakos said. The skid steer was fully on his mid-­section when it stopped.

Shannon screamed in pain, Christakos said, and Weller yelled at Sinden to move the vehicle.

Once the skid steer was off Shannon. Esler jumped off the blade and Sinden got out of the cab.

They asked Shannon, who was on the ground, where he was hurt. Shannon said he couldn’t feel his body and told them to call an ambulance.

Esler ran to the house to tell Murray, while Shannon pleaded with Maddocks to call 911. He told Mattocks he thought he was dying.

Maddocks ran down the driveway to get the rural home’s 911 number. By then, the three teens who’d been on the skid steer were in the house, telling Murray, “something just happened” and Shannon had been run over.

Witnesses say Esler told his pals: “Let’s go, let’s go. Get your stuff, guys.”

The three grabbed their belongings and beer and ran into the woods.

“Mr. Sinden, Mr. Esler and Mr. Weller did not attempt to provide assistance to Mr. Shannon,” Christakos said. None of them called 911, but they knew Mattocks had made a call.

From the woods, Esler called a friend and asked him to pick up the three teens on a side road near a pond.

Maddocks returned alone to Shannon, who was unconscious, but still breathing. He followed the instructions he was getting over the phone from a 911 dispatcher while he waited for paramedics and the police.

Murray came out of the house to be with Shannon and told Maddocks to go to the road to flag down police and paramedics.

Emergency crews got there in 12minutes, just after midnight and found Shannon motionless on his left side in the fetal position behind the skid steer.

He was foaming at the mouth and unresponsive. There was bruising to his right side and abdomen.

Shannon was pronounced dead at London’s Victoria Hospital shortly before 1a.m.

The three teens were picked up by Esler’s friend. Esler didn’t tell him exactly what had gone down, but the friend assumed “something happened.”

Two of them had a half beer with them. Sinden’s defence lawyer, JeffConway, said his client didn’t have any beer among his belongings.

One witness tried to call Weller, but at first he didn’t answer. On the second call, he asked why she was calling. She asked him where they were and why they had left. They both hung up.

Sinden called back and told the witness they took off “because he was drinking and they were scared,” Christakos said.

The friend who picked up the trio told police he figured the three teens had been in an argument or a fight. He drove them to Weller’s girlfriend’s home in Putnam. They said Murray was upset with them because they were on the “Bobcat.”

The friend didn’t find out what had happened to Shannon until the next day from an Instagram post. He asked Esler about it, but he couldn’t understand him because Esler was crying so much.

The three were located, arrested, and charged at their homes the next morning, Christakos said. They had been driven home by Esler’s father.

Sinden told police the three of them were in shock when they took off. He and Esler did go up to Shannon to see how he was, but acknowledged that taking off in fear “was not the right thing to do.”

Both he and Esler told police if they could go back in time, the night would have been much different. Both have written letters of apology to Shannon’s family.

The case returns to court Feb.13 to set a date for the lengthy sentencing hearing, when there are expected to be at least seven victim impact statements.

Pre-sentence reports were ordered for all three young men.

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