Family members of a Manitoba couple who died in a highway crash last year are calling for stiffer penalties for drivers convicted of killing others on the road.
Jared Youzwa, 26, and his girlfriend Ngan Nguyen, 25, died after the motorcycle they were riding collided with a van on the Trans-Canada Highway near Brandon, Man., on July 12, 2013.
The couple was en route to a family wedding in Saskatchewan at the time of the crash.
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"I think we're more close because of Jared and Nagan,” said Doug Youzwa, Jared’s father. “We miss them so much."
Doug Youzwa said he is still struggling with the loss of his son Jared.
"Try Mother's Day and Fathers Day, go to a cemetery to see your kids," said Youzwa. "Just think about that."
Family, driver in court
The driver of the van, Shawn Bradley Dreveski of Brandon, pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of careless driving causing death.
Dreveski had originally been charged with dangerous driving causing death — a more serious offence that would have come with a prison sentence of up to 14 years — but those charges were later stayed.
In court, the family of the deceased heard Devreski had fallen asleep at the wheel and that he hadn't slept in days.
Yowzwa's family said the Crown is asking for a hefty fine and a condition on Dreveski's driver's licence, not jail time or probation.
"Jared and Ngan, we feel like they were given a death sentence," Nicole Youzwa, Jared's sister, told CBC News. "Our families were given a life sentence, and the person who caused this is getting a fine."
The news has also devastated Ngan's younger brother Sonny, who said his sister was also his best friend.
"By just giving him a fine that's not doing anything," said Sonny. "That's not teaching anyone to be more careful."
Both families are now pushing for the crown to reconsider it's position, to send a strong message to the public.
The family said they were told by the crown there wasn't enough evidence to get a conviction on the more serious charge.
"Not only are Jared and Ngan the victims, but now it feels like we're being victimized," said Nicole. "The Crown has been anything but forthcoming and truthful with us."
Youzwa said the family was told by the Crown that they would seek probation, but that didn't happen at a court hearing earlier this month.
"There has to be a kind of punishment that puts some weight on this," she said. "It just seems like everyone gets a slap on the wrist."
Doug echoed his daughter's sentiments.
"If we walk away and just leave it as status quo then we've given up, I've given up on my child, our children," said Doug.
Dreveski is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 19.