Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'She didn't deserve to die,' drunk driver tells judge

Prosecutors seeking seven-year sentence

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A man responsible for the death of a pedestrian during a drunken rampage in February will be sentenced Oct. 3.

BORIS MINKEVICH Enlarge Image

A man responsible for the death of a pedestrian during a drunken rampage in February will be sentenced Oct. 3.

KIM Delaurier chatted with her spouse about supper and a movie, kissed him goodbye and set off on foot to Canadian Linen, where she had worked as a valued employee for decades.

Feb. 15, 2013 appeared to be like any other normal day in Winnipeg for the 53-year-old.

Minutes later, however, Delaurier was left clinging to life -- a random casualty of a major car wreck triggered by a speeding drunk driver seen blasting around city streets with five friends in tow just before.

She died in hospital soon after.

What happened to her was a major thread in a tragic story emerging Friday in provincial court, as Dakota Smoke appeared for sentencing on charges including impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Manitoba prosecutors are seeking a total of seven years in prison for Smoke, 19, saying what happened at Isabel Street and Notre Dame Avenue around 6 that morning was entirely his fault.

"The tragedy is solely the responsibility of Mr. Smoke," Crown attorney Nadine Vasas said.

Smoke and friends had been out partying and drinking beer the night before when he elected to get behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Impala.

'The tragedy is solely the responsibility of Mr. Smoke'

-- Crown attorney Nadine Vasas

Prior to smashing into a Honda CRV while cruising along Isabel, witnesses described watching him blow through three red lights before running a fourth at Isabel and Notre Dame, Vasas said.

He T-boned the Honda at "highway speed," pushing it up on the sidewalk as Delaurier was walking by.

Smoke fled the scene on foot and left his friends -- some of them injured -- behind.

One described crawling from the vehicle and pulling someone else from the wreckage.

One passenger told police Smoke was "plastered."

Others described screaming at him to slow down.

The Honda's driver spent a day in hospital and required multiple physiotherapy appointments, Vasas said.

Smoke, who as a youth saw a family member killed in a DUI-related crash, wasn't arrested until two days later when police caught up to him sleeping at a relative's house, Judge Rocky Pollack was told.

While in police custody, he "whispered" to a relative to tell his friends to keep quiet, court heard.

"It was just an accident," Smoke told police, according to the Crown. "I didn't set out to kill myself or anyone," he said.

Smoke began experimenting with drugs at age 13 and drinking at age 15.

He admits he has a substance-abuse problem that has "stunted" his life, said Vasas.

Smoke always intended to plead guilty and is remorseful for what he did, defence lawyer Jody Ostapiw said.

"I don't know that he's as callous as has been suggested," she said.

She urged Pollack to impose no more than three years total on all charges.

She pointed to a pre-sentencing report outlining the troubles in Smoke's background.

In the report, he told a probation officer he'll do whatever the court asks of him in order to deal with his drinking.

The court is obligated to not only look at the specifics of what Smoke did but also how he got to where he is today, Ostapiw said.

"She didn't deserve to die. I'm very sorry," Smoke softly told Pollack.

He was seen crying as Delaurier's sister personally read out a victim-impact statement to Pollack.

She described losing her best friend, someone she once shared all her feelings with.

"My heart has a hole in it, and I don't know how to fill it except with tears," she said. "I am very angry at the way she died."

Pollack will decide the case Oct. 3.

james.turner@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 31, 2013 A4

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