Francis Pesa’s loved ones wept in court Thursday as they read victim impact statements to the man who pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing the death of the 20-year-old.

Kulwinder Singh Chohan entered the guilty plea through his interpreter, who helped him understand the proceedings of the day.

Chohan declined to address the court and showed no emotion as Pesa’s loved ones, many of them wearing T-shirts bearing Pesa’s image, took turns expressing how his death had affected their lives.

“I have been handed a life sentence,” said Pesa’s mother, Grace Pesa, as supporters filling half a courtroom sniffled loudly and wiped away tears.

Grace Pesa talks to reporters at the courthouse about the effect of her son’s death on the family

Pesa and his girlfriend Christina Quach were driving in a BMW on Metis Trail N.W. on New Year’s Day 2014 to pick up food for his family when a Dodge Ram that had crossed the centre line struck their vehicle.

The Ram, driven by Chohan — father of two daughters with a third child on the way — had side-swiped a Mazda before crashing into the BMW. A Buick Enclave then hit the Ram.

Court heard that a bottle of Crown Royal was found in the passenger side of the Ram. Chohan’s blood-alcohol level was well over the legal limit.

Pesa and Quach were rushed to Foothills Hospital. Medical staff tried to save Pesa but he succumbed to his injuries five days later.

Pesa and his family had just returned from the Philippines, where he had spent a month visiting and helping family following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan. The disaster killed thousands of people, including 40 of Pesa’s relatives.

“I already lost a lot of loved ones,” said the victim’s father, Ramil Pesa, addressing Chohan directly. “But nothing can compare to the loss of my son Francis.”

He said the fatal crash has left him and his family shattered.

“If you can see me as one whole piece standing in front of you, you don’t know how broken I am inside,” he said. “Never a single day passed by that I didn’t think of killing myself.”

Quach was too distraught to attend court Thursday. But in a statement read aloud by a friend, she said she had lost her best friend.

“I did not ever imagine that at my age I would have to watch the love of my life take his last breath and feel the warmth of his hands leave me.”

Pesa’s three brothers and friends painted the picture of a happy, athletic young man, always the designated driver for his friends, who was about to start business studies at SAIT and was planning a future with his girlfriend. Many are still struggling with their loss.

Hervin Pesa is overcome with emotion as he talks to reporters on Jan. 8, 2015, about his brother, who was killed in a drunk-driving accident.

Outside court, Grace Pesa told reporters she felt disappointed by the day’s events. She said she had reached out to Chohan for a private meeting but he did not accept the invitation. She called him a coward.

“He should have thought of his children, his mother, his family,” she said.

“This is so preventable, so preventable. Again, I’d like to re-emphasize, I’m not against drinking. Just don’t drive.”

The Crown is seeking a three-year sentence and a five-year driving prohibition.

A sentencing date will be set Monday.

Source: Calgary Herald


Last updated on: 2015-01-09 | Link to this post