Pop Goes The News — Six years after getting behind the wheel drunk and fatally running over his friend in an Ottawa parking garage, Jack Tobin is working as a commercial pilot.
Tobin, 30, has been a first officer at PAL Airlines since June 2015 despite still being banned from operating a motor vehicle.
According to Transport Canada, a drivers’ license is not a prerequisite for a pilot license and an impaired driving conviction has no formal impact on pilot certification.
Tobin is co-piloting Dash-8 aircraft for PAL, which operates passenger and cargo services in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec.
Stephen Dinn, vice president of business development for PAL Airlines, declined to answer questions about Tobin’s employment when reached Thursday.
Tobin pleaded guilty in May 2011 to impaired driving causing the death of his close friend Alex Zolpis. The court heard that his blood-alcohol level at the time of the accident — in the early morning hours of Christmas Eve in 2010 — was twice the legal limit.
The son of former Newfoundland premier and federal cabinet minister Brian Tobin, he was in Ottawa for the holidays from Toronto, where he worked security at the chic Hazelton Hotel.
Tobin had 11 previous speeding convictions and two license suspensions.
At his sentencing hearing, Tobin offered a tearful apology.
“I truly wish I had been the only victim of my actions that night and not Alex,” he said.
“I take full responsibility for the hurt, the pain and the anguish that I have caused. I know how senseless this has been and how preventable Alex’s death was.”
In August 2011, an Ontario judge sentenced Tobin to three years in prison and barred him from driving a motor vehicle for seven years.
After serving six months of his sentence, Tobin was granted day parole in March 2012 and full parole a few months later.
He enrolled in an 18-month program at Ottawa Aviation Services to obtain his commercial pilot’s license.
According to his LinkedIn profile, prior to getting a job at PAL Airlines, Tobin worked as an “Airside Manager & Flight Dispatcher” at Ottawa Aviation Services and as a Flight Coordinator at Chartright Air Group in Mississauga, Ont..
On his Facebook page, pictures of Tobin at the controls of airplanes have comments like “Nice to see ya enjoying life again” and “You are an inspiration.”
Tobin, who now lives in Montreal, could not be reached for comment.