Antonette Wijeratne, left, speaks to the media outside court in June 2015 after Sebastian Prosa, now 22, was found guilty of 12 counts related to drunk driving deaths of her husband Jayantha Wijeratne, 49, and 16-year-old Eleesha on Hw. 427 on Aug. 5 2012 .

If only every young driver in this province could have been in this courtroom to witness the shattered lives left by a drunk teen who got behind the wheel.

In the witness box, a dirge of pain. First, Antonette Wijeratne, a mother who has buried her only daughter and beloved husband, left with physical injuries herself that will heal long before her broken heart; and then her son, Brian, trying to explain how he survives with half his family gone, forced to carry on without his hero and his shadow.

In the body of the court, the weeping of friends and relatives who have lost two central figures in their own life stories, a gaping emptiness that cannot be filled.

And at the defence table, a young man struggling with his own tears for all the lives he has ruined, including his own, because of one stupid, stupid decision to drive drunk.

So much needless tragedy; so much heedless carnage that can’t ever be set right.

The Wijeratnes had been driving home from a week’s vacation in Florida where fun-loving Jayantha — better known as Neil — had realized his dream of visiting NASA. Brilliant and vivacious Eleesha, just 16, had loved the waterparks and shopping for her big brother Brian who’d stayed home to do summer courses.

They had already dropped off Neil’s brother and wife, who had travelled with them. It was Antonette’s birthday and Eleesha had just given her an ornament of seashells that read, “I love you mom.”

They were on the ramp heading to Hwy. 427. “We were nearly home, just a few miles to go,” recalled Antonette, her voice shaking as she read her victim impact statement. “In a blink of an eye our lives were destroyed, never to be happy again. The beautiful lives that we shared together for years ended in a split second and we were thrown into darkness.”

They had come to Canada from Sri Lanka in 2000 in hopes of giving their children a better life. Neil wanted his kids to become engineers like himself, and Brian was in his first year of electrical engineering while gifted Eleesha was planning on chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo.

Now their mother regrets ever bringing them here.

Her husband — the jokester, the hard-working provider — brought a joy to life that was infectious. “Sometimes I wonder if God made me laugh so much during the 21 years of our marriage because he knew I will be crying for the rest of my life.”

She woke in Sunnybrook hospital asking desperately for her husband and daughter. A doctor had to tell her they were gone. “I cried very loud but my voice wouldn’t come.”

Antonette was taken on a hospital stretcher to see them at the funeral home. As they lay before her in their coffins, she tried to pretend they were just sleeping and begged in vain for them to wake up. “Can anyone imagine seeing your husband and daughter buried in front of your eyes with no chance of saying goodbye to them?”

Helplessly, she has also had to watch her son’s endless grief.

“My dad was my rock, my guiding light,” Brian explained to the court. As for his sister, “she was my shadow. Whatever I did, she did. She was always there, right beside me as we tackled life together.”

Plagued by depression, he tries to help his mom when he can barely hold it together himself. And she clings to life only because she hasn’t the heart to abandon him as well.

So much devastation lies in the wake of a kid who decided it was OK to get behind the wheel after a night of partying.

“My life ended with Neil and Eleesha that night,” Antonette said softly. “Just my body is here physically. I am like a walking corpse. I feel dead. Because of a selfish, senseless, careless decision to drink and drive, I lost so much in my life.”

The Crown is asking for a stiff eight-year prison term. Prosa’s defence will make their sentencing submissions next week before the judge.

But whatever punishment is imposed, nothing can ever mend these broken souls.  


On Aug. 5, 2012, Prosa, just turned 19, had spent the evening drinking at a friend’s home and then a designated driver took them to Skybar downtown where he continued doing shots. He claimed he couldn’t remember anything after that and that someone must have spiked his drink with a club drug to explain the bizarre and dangerous behaviour that followed.

Shortly before 3 a.m., Prosa was driving north on Hwy. 427 in his GMC Envoy when he suddenly made a U-turn and began speeding south in the wrong direction. He headed on to the ramp meant for vehicles exiting the QEW and slammed head-on into the Wijeratnes’ minivan.

Driver Jayantha “Neil” Wijeratne, 49, and 16-year-old daughter Eleesha were killed instantly. Wife Antonette suffered life-threatening injuries that would require three months in hospital.

Toxicology reports showed Prosa’s blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. After emergency workers removed Prosa from his vehicle, police noted that he smelled of alcohol and told a paramedic “I drank a lot.”

Prosa was convicted in June on all 12 charges he faced with Justice Glenn Hainey rejecting his claims that he blacked out after he’d been drugged.

Source: Toronto Sun


Last updated on: 2015-09-12 | Link to this post