A Martensville, Sask., man received a four-year sentence Monday after he drove drunk and killed an 11-year-old girl days before Christmas.
Anthony McClelland was driving more than 150 km/h in a 100 zone and travelling in the wrong direction on the evening of Dec. 21, 2018. On Highway 305 west of Highway 11 near Warman, his half-ton truck approached the pickup driven by Dawn Schnurr.
The drivers swerved in the same direction.
“They struck each other in a catastrophic collision,” said Crown prosecutor John Knox.
Sophie Schnurr, 11, died at the scene roughly 15 kilometres north of Saskatoon. Her mother Dawn and sister Grace were both injured in the crash. Knox said the Schnurrs were on the road after finishing Christmas shopping.
McClelland told police at the time that he’d just had four beers with some friends after work.
In November, the now 33-year-old pleaded guilty to one count of impaired driving causing death and two counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm.
The judge accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence, which includes a four-year sentence and a three-year driving ban to follow.
The judge accepted that the man’s remorse is genuine, but said that by choosing to drink and drive, McClelland “rolled the dice and the Schnurr family paid the price.”
“You took a bright light out of our community, and as far as I’m concerned, you should be spending the rest of your life trying to give back,” said judge Sanjeev Anand.
“You took from this world a child that only wanted to help other people.”
During victim impact statements, family remembered Sophie as being full of promise, love and compassion. She dreamed of being a veterinarian because she loved animals.
Dawn Schnurr told court her daughter would often cry when she saw homeless people because she thought they were alone and in need of help.
Her grandmother Cheryl MacAngus said Sophie will never get to have a first crush, learn to drive or graduate school due to a tragedy caused by “stupidity, selfishness and carelessness.”
“We all died inside that day.”
Defence lawyer George Green said despite multiple “triable issues” around the admissibility of some evidence, McClelland told him that he wanted to plead guilty.
In the courtroom, McClelland turned to the Schnurr family and apologized, saying he is “deeply ashamed by (his) completely irresponsible behaviour.”
The 33-year-old said he hasn’t drank alcohol since the crash and his “selfish and poor decisions” will haunt him for the rest of his life.