Eric Alexander Rode-Olsen, 30, decided to agree with whatever sentence Judge Franklin Stephenson deemed fair on Monday in Superior Court in Stockton. Stephenson gave Rode-Olsen a year in jail followed by five years of probation, according to defense attorney Albert Ellis.
“I thought it was a fair disposition to a tragic event,” Ellis said.
Rode-Olsen, a Swedish citizen working at SkyView on a work visa for more than four years, was accused of killing 23-year-old Swedish pilot Mikael Strid when Rode-Olsen crashed his BMW into the Delta-Mendota Canal on Feb. 23.
Investigators said Rode-Olsen was driving his BMW west down a Tracy Municipal Airport runway at more than 100 mph with Swedish pilots Strid, Andreas Johansson and Andreas Olsen.
Around 11:30 p.m. he reportedly lost control of his car, crashed through a chain-link fence, launched 115 feet into the air and landed in the canal adjacent to the airport. Strid died in the accident, and his body was found in the canal March 10.
During the judge’s deliberation, Ellis said Stephenson’s ruling was based on a number of things, including Rode-Olsen’s lack of a prior criminal record and the fact that the victim’s family wrote a letter on the defendant’s behalf asking for leniency.
Deputy District Attorney Steve Hahn said Rode-Olsen pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Although the victim’s family did not feel the incident was a criminal act, Hahn said he saw it as a public safety issue.
“What the judge did is within his realm of discretion — whether I agree or disagree is irrelevant,” Hahn said. “I felt the case should be prison.”
Ellis said Rode-Olsen was remorseful and relieved to have his case closed. But Ellis said it didn’t take away the sting Rode-Olsen felt over his friend’s death.
The three pilots were part of a group of five Swedish men about to conclude training at the Tracy airport and return to Sweden.
Rode-Olsen is scheduled to report to county jail in September to begin his jail sentence. At the completion of his jail term, he faces the possibility of deportation to Sweden.