British Columbia

Christopher Baires gets a 22-month sentence for driving death

Christopher Baires was sentenced by a B.C. Supreme Court judge to 22 months in jail for his role in the car accident that killed 16-year-old Melissa Tomac.

16-year-old Melissa Tomac was killed five years ago, driver sentenced today

Mario and Dinah Tomac react to the sentence in New Westminister. (CBC)

Christopher Baires was sentenced by a B.C. Supreme Court judge to 22 months in jail for his role in the car accident that killed 16-year-old Melissa Tomac.

In 2010, Baires was behind the wheel of a car with Tomac and two other friends as passengers. The four had spent the day at Sasamat Lake and were on the way home when police said Baires attempted to overtake another car. Baires lost control of the vehicle and ended up slamming into trees that lined the road.

Tomac later died in hospital from her injuries.

Justice Jane Dardi accepted the joint submission of the Crown and defence on Tuesday.

Baires will serve his sentence, two years of probation, perform community service and be given a ban on consuming alcohol and a three-year driving ban.

Unbearable loss

Tomac's parents, Mario and Dinah, said the case languished in the courts after Baires was originally charged with impaired and dangerous driving causing death.

Their loss has been unbearable, Mario Tomac said outside of court.

"We will never see her graduate, walk down the aisle, see our grandkids."

Dinah Tomac said the family will never get over their loss.

"I never knew a body could endure this physical and psychological pain, a pain that never goes away."

The Tomacs have become part of Families for Justice, a group founded by Markita Kaulius after her own daughter Kassandra was killed after an impaired driver collided with her in 2011.

Today's sentencing hearing for Baires follows a guilty plea for three of the nine original charges. The charges involving impairment have been dropped. 

Crimes like this should be treated like vehicular homicides and the sentencing should reflect that, Kaulius said earlier.​

With files from Farrah Merali


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