Kasha Dezainde was a vibrant young woman who had dreams of becoming an architect or a graphic artist.
She had a smile that was “big and bright,” and she adored children just as much as they adored her.
Family members shared their memories of Dezainde on Wednesday in Abbotsford provincial court during a sentencing hearing for Stephany Nyl.
Nyl previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death in relation to Dezainde’s death on Jan. 30, 2011 at the age of 20.
At about 4:30 p.m. on that day, Nyl, now 21, was driving her 1992 Nissan NX hatchback westbound in the 33500 block of Page Road when she hit an elevated railroad track at high speed.
Crown counsel Wayne Norris said collision reconstructionists estimated Nyl’s speed to be 125 km/h in the 50 km/h zone.
The impact sent the small car vaulting through the air, sliding across the road upon landing, and smashing into two trees on the driver’s side.
Norris said the car travelled a total distance of 330 feet (101 metres) from the railroad tracks to the trees.
Alcohol or drugs were not a factor in the crash, he said.
Dezainde, the only passenger, was pronounced dead at the scene due to a severe skull fracture.
Nyl (in photo at left) was airlifted to hospital in critical condition and spent two months there recovering from injuries that included a broken collarbone, bleeding of the brain, a collapsed lung, spleen damage and soft-tissue injuries.
She still suffers the emotional and physical consequences of the crash, including the trauma of having lost one of her close friends, said Nyl’s lawyer Philip Derksen.
Dezainde’s grandmother Leona Forcier, maternal aunt Coretta Jantzen, and cousin Ayla MacCulloch read into court their victim impact statements, saying they have been devastated by her death.
They described Dezainde as someone who had a “zest for life,” and often laughed and squealed with delight.
While other young people her age often focus on materialistic things, her niece took pleasure in the simple things, Jantzen said.
Forcier said Dezainde also had a serious and empathetic side, with a gift for making her friends feel special. All three stated that she would have made an “amazing” mother.
They also expressed remorse at the way Dezainde died, saying she often scolded people for speeding, due to anxiety she experienced from having been in a car accident with her mother at a young age.
“We will not see her become the woman she could have been … We have a right to be angry – the utter unfairness of it all,” Forcier said through tears.
Nyl gave a brief statement in court, saying she had not intended Dezainde’s death.
“I want Kasha’s family to know that I have taken responsibility and that I am very, very sorry,” she said.
Norris said that although Nyl did not intentionally kill Dezainde, her sentence must be severe enough to send a message to others about the potential consequences of reckless driving.
“Speeding drivers think it will never happen to them … They seem convinced of their own invulnerability and invincibility,” he said.
Norris recommended that Nyl receive a jail term of 12 to 24 months, followed by three years of probation and a five-year driving ban.
Derksen said if the judge believes a jail term is necessary, a more appropriate sentence would be 90 days, to be served on weekends, followed by a period of probation.
He also asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence, which would involve Nyl completing a period of probation and having her sentence thrown out if she complies with all her conditions and does not break the law during that time.
A decision on the sentence has been reserved, tentatively scheduled for July 29.