5-year prison sentence for drunk driving crash that killed Western University student

Andrea Christidis was struck and killed by an impaired driver in October 2015. Handout

A man who pleaded guilty in an impaired driving crash that killed a university student in London, Ont., was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday, as the victim’s family called for harsher penalties for the crime.

Jared Dejong had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in his blood when he was arrested in the October 2015 collision that claimed the life of 18-year-old Andrea Christidis.

The first-year student had been walking back to her residence on Western University’s campus when Dejong’s vehicle jumped a curb and hit her. She died of her injuries in hospital two days after the crash.

READ MORE: Ontario man pleads guilty in impaired driving crash that killed Western University student

At his sentencing hearing in April, Dejong, who had been out on bail, said he was “haunted” by the memory of what he had done.

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The Crown had sought a five-year prison sentence for Dejong, while defence lawyers had called for two years behind bars and three years of probation.

Dejong’s lawyer said Thursday that the five-year sentence came as no surprise and said his client was determined to “make something positive” from the tragedy.

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READ MORE: Man charged with impaired driving in fatal Western University crash to plead guilty

“It is a sad case for both the Christidis family as well as the Dejong family. And I can speak for my client and his family when I say that they are truly sorry for the loss of Andrea,” Jim Dean told The Canadian Press.

“We can only hope that this will make someone else think before getting behind the wheel after drinking and possibly prevent the destruction of more families.”

Members of Christidis’s family, however, said Dejong’s sentence didn’t go far enough, adding that drunk driving was treated too leniently by the courts.

READ MORE: Charges upgraded against alleged impaired driver in death of Western University student

“No sentence handed down today could be fair or just so long as the penalty does not match the crime,” said Soula Koutlemanis, Christidis’s aunt, who read a statement outside court on the family’s behalf.

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“(Dejong) will return to his family and continue his life. We, on the other hand, have been sentenced to a life sentence of pain and suffering.”

Dejong chose to drink and drive without any considerations for the consequences, Koutlemanis said, wondering aloud if harsher penalties would have resulted in him making a different decision.

READ MORE: Visitation planned for UWO student killed in campus crash by alleged impaired driver

“We are living a nightmare, as are other families in similar situations. Something must change,” she said. “The first step in our opinion is harsher sentences for those who drink and drive.”

An agreed statement of facts heard in the case revealed that Dejong was on Western University’s campus drinking with friends at the campus pub for three or four hours. He was not a student at the school.

Witnesses said road conditions at the time were “perfect” and that Dejong’s vehicle was seen travelling very fast and at one point cut in front of a bus. Video from the bus also showed him driving on the wrong side of the road.

READ MORE: UWO student dies after being struck by alleged impaired driver

The car went through two intersections without stopping, causing other drivers to take evasive action, before it jumped the curb and struck Christidis, throwing her 10 metres.

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Dejong pleaded guilty to over 80 mg blood alcohol causing death in the case.

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