SURREY (NEWS1130) – The woman who drove drunk and killed a young softball player in a crash in Surrey a year-and-a-half ago has been sentenced to three years and one month in prison.
35-year-old Natasha Warren is also banned from driving for eight years.
Warren drank a bottle-and-a-half of wine before she climbed behind the wheel of her company van in May 2011. She was traveling at more than 100km/hr on 152nd Street when she ran a red light at 64th Avenue. Warren’s van smashed into a car, killing the lone occupant, 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius.
“I’m not sure how I feel,” Kassandra’s mom Markita said outside the courthouse as she clutched a picture of her daughter close to her heart.
“Every day is painful for us because we’re without Kassandra. It just keeps going on. We live this every day. There is someone missing from our family. Even at Christmas time, we tried to celebrate Christmas with other family members, but it’s just not the same.”
After the crash, Warren ran into some bushes to hide.
When police found her a short while later they determined her blood alcohol level was 1.40.
Warren pleaded guilty in July on three counts: dangerous driving causing death, failing to stay at the scene, and driving with a blood alcohol level higher than 0.08.
The Crown asked for a three-and-a-half year prison sentence.
Judge Gurmail Gill opted for three years and one month instead, partly because of the 27 letters of reference he received on Warren’s behalf.
He says the incident was out of character for her.
“Friends describe her as the one who would take the keys from others and put them in her pocket to stop them drinking and driving,” Gill says. “This was a needless and preventable tragedy.”
Warren’s lawyer Mark Cacchioni says his client made no effort to minimize her responsibility for Kaulius’ death.
“Tragically, there are no winners, there are only losers,” Cacchioni says.
“To the Kaulius family, my client continues to bare the burden of having taken their beloved daughter. She will bare that burden for the rest of her life. It is genuine, it is not conjured,” he continues.
Markita Kaulius isn’t convinced.
“To us, actions have always spoken louder than words,” she says. “You choose to run away. You have a cell phone and you never even try to call 9-1-1 for help or give a statement to the police. Those actions speak volumes to us.”
Markita Kaulius became a part of the group Families for Justice after Kassandra’s death.
“Kassandra was just one of 1,074 people killed in 2011 in Canada by an impaired driver,” Kaulius says. “These innocent victims deserve so much more value to be put on their lives from our legal system and we hope in the future that others will get that justice.”
She wants to see the federal government implement a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison in cases like this one.