The driver who pleaded guilty to killing two women in a Surrey car crash last year heard victim impact statements at an emotional sentencing hearing Thursday.
Nicolas Karvouniaris entered his plea in May after being charged with two counts of dangerous driving causing death for the Nov. 4, 2018 crash.
He had been travelling 167 km/h — more than three times the speed limit posted on 88 Avenue — when his Jeep crossed over a median and struck another vehicle nearly head-on.
The driver, 50-year-old Abbotsford maternity ward nurse Sarah Dhillon, died on impact. One passenger, 19-year-old Paige Nagata, died 15 days later in hospital. Two other passengers, including Dhillon’s 17-year-old son, suffered serious, life-altering injuries.
Crown is asking for a prison sentence of 22 to 24 months less a day, followed by 18 to 24 months probation and a driving prohibition. Defence is arguing for no more than 15 months behind bars.
On Thursday, a packed Surrey courtroom watched as the victims’ survivors told Karvouniaris, who turned 26 the day of the hearing, how the accident and the loss of their loved ones have impacted their lives.
WATCH (April 20, 2017): Emotional victim impact statements in connection with fatal crash
Among the speakers was Sarah Dhillon’s widower, Abbotsford police officer Paul Dhillon, who said he learned about the crash when his injured son phoned him.
“Everybody’s dead, Dad,” Dhillon remembered his son telling him.
He rushed to the scene of the accident, where he saw his wife’s mangled Ford Escape and a yellow tarp draped over the driver’s side.
“I know what that means,” the officer said. “I’ve seen it before.”
Dhillon told Karvouniaris how the crash impacted his work and his single-parent relationship with his three sons. He suffered a heart attack in June, despite having a clean bill of health up to that point.
Other members of Sarah Dhillon’s family, including her parents and brother, also had their opportunities to read statements to Karvouniaris.
“I feel cheated, deprived and alienated of the simple view of life I once held,” Sarah’s father Troy Demmitt said.
Earlier, Nagata’s sister and mother spoke on the tragedy of not seeing Paige grow up and become a wife, mother and aunt to her sister’s children.
“Most of all, I miss seeing you embracing your older sister,” Nagata’s mother Marlene Carr said through tears. “You gave me so much joy … I feel so lonely without you.”
In a statement read by her mother, survivor Olivia Kilian described the injuries caused by the crash: her lungs collapsed, her liver was shredded, her jaw was broken, and her spleen was removed. She’s also suffered several strokes as a result of blood clots that continue to this day.
“I’m no longer my own person,” Kilian’s statement read. “I am the person the accident turned me into.”
As he listened to statement after statement, Karvouniaris wiped away tears and held his head in his hands.
When it was his turn to speak at the end of the hearing, he apologized to the families and expressed hope that they would forgive him one day.
“It truly pains me to know I am responsible for this. I can not describe how sorry I am,” he said. “If there was any way I could go back and change the events (of) that night, I’d do everything in my power to do so.”
Before his statement, as the defence attempted to lay out how Karvouniaris has been remorseful and made progress since the crash, members of the victims’ families sitting in the gallery shook their heads.
As Paul Dhillon wrapped his statement, he turned his focus from Karvouniaris to the judge who will hand down the sentence.
“I don’t expect anything you do will bring us comfort,” Dhillon said. “I would hope that it won’t injure us further, though.”
The judge has reserved his decision until Sept. 26.