The family of a Winnipeg woman who was killed by a drunk driver last year was the first to read aloud their victim impact statement in front of television cameras during the driver's sentencing hearing on Friday afternoon.
Debbie Leah called her mother-in-law, Doreen Chaikowsky, an "exceptional woman" during the sentencing hearing for Adam Langan.
It marks the first time a victim impact statement was broadcast live from a Manitoba courtroom.
Chaikowsky, 71, was driving to visit her sister on Aug. 24, 2013, when Langan plowed into her vehicle, killing her.
Leah said Chaikowsky was a caring woman who often offered to drive friends and loved ones home from social events.
"She cared about people she didn't directly know and she made sure that everyone arrived home safe from dinners or gatherings at her house," Leah told the court, as Wade Chaikowsky stood by her side.
"She often stayed up late to be the designated driver when friends or family attended social events, and that's what makes her death even harder to take — the irony of being killed in an accident where alcohol is suspected."
7 vehicles involved in crash
Langan, 30, was speeding down McPhillips Street in a pickup truck when he slammed into another truck, causing a chain reaction that sent Chaikowsky's vehicle into the curb.
Seven vehicles were involved in the crash, with three other people injured.
Court was told that Langan was drunk and high on cocaine at the time of the collision. He was driving at a speed of 123 kilometres an hour — more than double the posted speed limit of 60 km/h.
"One cannot describe what happened to Doreen Chaikowsky as an accident," Crown prosecutor James Ross said in court.
"At this level of intoxication by both alcohol and drug, at reckless speeds, at 5 p.m. on a Saturday on a busy thoroughfare, it was inevitable that Mr. Langan was going to cause tragedy."
Langan later pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and in return, the Crown stayed charges of impaired driving causing bodily harm and refusing a breath or drug evaluation.
The Crown and the defence jointly recommended a 4½-year sentence for Langan, but defence lawyer Brett Gladstone asked the court to grant Langan enhanced credit for the 11 months he has served in custody.
Gladstone said his client is sorry for what he's done and wants to go to a residential treatment facility for alcohol and drug abuse.
Provincial court Judge Kelly Moar reserved his decision until July 31.
Victim's family wants full punishment
Prior to the sentencing hearing, Chaikowksy's brother-in-law, Doug, said he wanted Langan punished to the full extent of the law, but he wasn't confident that would happen.
"If they can put him in for 10 years, he should go for 10 years," he said. "His past violent acts over the years — he was released early … and then he goes out, gets on the street and commits vehicular manslaughter."
Doug said he worries that Langan would get a light sentence.
"They always set these sentences according to prior cases. Well, I think this is the time to set the precedent for future cases," he said.
Doug said Chaikowsky was still grieving the loss of her husband — who had died the winter before — when she was killed.
"She took care of him right to the end. She took care of everyone in the family," he said. "She worked hard all her life."
Chaikowsky also didn't drink, he said.
"She was a great person, and she was taken away," he said.