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Deadly drunk driver sentenced to 6-1/2 years

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A young Winnipeg man who killed an innocent pedestrian and hurt two others in a horrific drunk-driving wreck, and then fled the scene to avoid capture, has been sentenced to 6-1/2 years in prison.

Dakota Dennis Smoke, 19, learned his fate today in provincial court after previously pleading guilty to several charges, including leaving the scene of an accident and impaired driving causing the death of Kim Delaurier, 53, on Feb. 15.

Smoke had been drinking excessively hours prior to the 6 a.m. crash at Isabel Street and Notre Dame Avenue and was piloting a vehicle with a number of passengers in tow.

Witnesses described seeing him blow through red lights as he hurtled north along Osborne Street just prior to the crash, at speeds estimated in excess of 100 km/h. A garbage truck driver said he narrowly missed running into Smoke's car as he entered the roadway from a back lane just prior to the crash.

"A fatal collision was almost a certainty," Judge Rocky Pollack said. Smoke slammed into a Honda CRV after running a red at Notre Dame. The CRV hit and killed Delaurier as she waited on the sidewalk for a bus to take her to work at Canadian Linen.

The crash "made the front of Mr. Smoke's vehicle look like it was vaporized," Pollack said. The safety features of the vehicle he was in "worked perfectly," Pollack said. "He was able to walk away ... and that's what he did."

Smoke fled the scene on foot, only to be arrested days later. While being recorded at the police station, he told his brother in a phone call to tell people involved to keep their "mouths shut."

At the time of the crash, Smoke only had a novice driver's licence so having any booze in his system was prohibited, said Pollack.

"Mr. Smoke broke the law the moment he set the car in motion with a milligram of alcohol in his bloodstream," the judge said, and handed down a sentence of 5 1/2 years for the driving offences and a year to be served consecutively for running away.

Smoke never applied for bail and pleaded guilty at a very early stage. In the past, he has worked and shown he can be a good citizen, Pollack said.

"He has demonstrated the potential to be a contributing member of society," Pollack said.

After crediting him for time served of eight months, Smoke has five years and 10 months remaining on his sentence.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

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