SASKATOON – A four-year sentence has been handed down in a fatal drunk driving collision from the fall of 2014.
John Koch, 50, would spend his first night of many behind bars and heard from more than a dozen family members and friends of Danille Kerpan in court on Monday, about the loss they can only describe as a crippling, all-consuming pain.
It’s been 15 months since the family says they were whole and what remains in their hearts is constant pain.
Court heard during victim impact statements that since Oct. 10, 2014, they’ve had to live out their darkest nightmare after their beloved daughter, sister and girlfriend Danille was killed by Koch who was impaired at the time.
Her boyfriend witnessed the collision on Highway 11 not realizing his soon-to-be fiancée was involved in the head-on collision. Her brother telling the courtroom he had learned he was going to have another baby, the exact same day his sister died.
Her father, former MP and MLA Allan Kerpan called her his ray of sunshine and her mother saying that being her mom was the greatest gift that not even death could take away from her.
“The people who were there on the scene told us that she was killed instantly, that’s somewhat of a small saving grace but that’s one of the biggest fears that I had was that,” said Allan as he paused.
“If she felt fear, that would be pretty hard to take.”
On that fateful day, a dozen calls were placed to 911 within a matter of 20 minutes to report a driver travelling northbound in the wrong direction towards on-coming traffic. Two calls were placed before that by the same driver to report an erratic driver who at times was estimated to be travelling at 140 kilometers per hour.
Behind the wheel, Koch who narrowly missed others before fatally striking Danille’s vehicle as she attempted to pull onto the shoulder just outside of Bladworth, Sask.
Kerpan was pronounced dead on scene. Koch was ejected from his vehicle and witnesses told police he smelt of alcohol.
At the time of the collision, Koch’s blood alcohol level was believed to be three times the legal limit. Court heard he has no criminal history but 10 driving infractions over 20 years for speeding and that he doesn’t recall anything about the accident.
The accused addressing the family said no words were enough and he prayed for them every single day. He was sentenced to four years in prison and is prohibited to drive for a total of 11 years.
“As he said he would much rather it be him than her and he is remorseful of course,” said Aaron Fox, defence lawyer for Koch.
The Kerpan family said hearing from him was much more difficult than they would imagine it would be and that it would appear the justice system is taking impaired driving much more seriously.
“I think the court saw fit and the judge saw fit today to raise the bar and that’s a good positive step,” said Allan Kerpan.
They say the can only continue to hope the bar will be raised even higher in court cases to come.