Edmonton

'This is your cross to bear,' Edmonton mother tells driver who killed her son

When it was over, when his death was official, they cleaned the blood off Geo Mounsef and wrapped him in a hospital blanket. His mother held him for hours.

Sentencing continues for Richard Suter, who crashed his SUV through a restaurant patio

Richard Suter, along wife Gayska Suter, outside court in July, after he pleaded guilty to refusing to offer a breath sample in the death of a toddler. (CBC)

The little boy's body lay on a metal hospital table, surrounded by doctors trying to save his life.

Sage Morin held her son's small foot, but it was already cold.

When it was over, when his death was official, they cleaned the blood off Geo Mounsef and wrapped him in a hospital blanket. His mother held him for hours.

Geo Mounsef was two when he was struck and killed by an SUV on a restaurant patio in south Edmonton. (Family photo)
Her whole world went dark that day. It has, for the most part, stayed dark ever since.

"To lose a child is to lose everything that is right in the world," Morin told an Edmonton court Tuesday morning.

At times during her victim impact statement, she spoke directly to Richard Suter, the man who crashed his luxury SUV through a restaurant patio and killed her two-year-old son.

"I looked under your SUV and saw my little boy pinned against the wall," she said. "You didn't even have the decency to reverse your vehicle and get it off his tiny body.

"Suddenly the lights went out. My world grew dark. I just wanted to die. We cried in horror at what you'd done."

Morin cast her memory back to that spring evening May 19, 2013, when her family was dining on the patio at Ric's Grill on 23rd Avenue.

"We chose a table in the sun," she said.

They had just placed their orders, had just picked up their water glasses to make a toast to life.

Morin said she saw Suter pull up outside the restaurant and felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.

Then the crash, and she looked for Geo, not knowing it would be the last time she would see him alive.

"I heard your vehicle accelerate before it smashed into the wall," she told Suter, her hands shaking. "A sound that haunts me for the rest of my life."

She remembered that Geo never got the Shirley Temple he'd been promised, his reward for being a good boy that day.

In court, wearing a black dress, carrying a picture of her son, Morin spoke for 32 minutes.

In her statement, she talked about the strength she'd once had. Strength that, long ago, helped her survive sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental abuse.

"I learned to protect myself," she said. "I learned to protect my heart."

'I just wanted to die'

Once she found out she was pregnant, everything changed.

"Suddenly my world was full of colour," she said, then seemed to address her son. "I feel like I'm someone now, because I'm your mom."

Geo was born on July 16, 2010.

"Suddenly my world was full of light," she said. "As Geo grew, I grew."

Sage Morin, shown here in a file photo, delivered a 32-minute victim impact statement to court Tuesday. (CBC )
Her son loved dinosaurs, and hide and seek. He liked to sing, and play with Lego.

"I close my eyes and I can still hear him singing songs about his letters," Morin said.

Now all those good feelings are gone. And she is haunted by sadness. And regret.

"I hated myself for not being able to protect him," she told the courtroom. "I will always live my life wondering why it was him, when it should have been me."

Since her son's death, Morin said she has suffered from depression, her marriage has faltered. For a time, she refused to get out of bed, just laid in the dark and watched videos of Geo.

"I just wanted to die. I wanted all the pain to be over. I wanted to be with my son again."

She added: "To this day I struggle for a will to live. The horrible memories I've been left with are my constant companions."

Then she fixed her eyes on Suter, who has pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to provide a breath sample.

"You stand here today before a judge, but true judgement still awaits you," she told Suter. "What kind of man do you want to be?

"I can't carry the bitterness anymore. It's far too much for me. Today, I give it back to you. This is your cross to bear."

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