An Okanagan singer nearly killed by a drunk driver last year says his nine-month sentence is bittersweet.
Riley Russell was surrounded by friends and relatives as a judge in Kelowna jailed Justin Allan Dubois on Friday and barred him from driving for three years. She's still in pain and will need treatment for years.
"It's nice knowing something's happening, but I wish it could have been more," she said outside the courtroom. "Nobody wins."
Russell, then 19, was driving home from a gig when Dubois crashed head-on into her Honda on Lakeshore Road Jan. 13, 2012. Emergency crews used hydraulic shears to pull her broken body from the wreckage.
She spent two weeks in hospital with two broken legs, a fractured orbital bone and internal injuries. She needed several surgeries and still has no feeling in her bottom lip. Her right ankle is fused, and she'll see a specialist this summer to check for brain injury.
Dubois, who works at a high-paying job in Alberta, was living in Kelowna and had been drinking heavily. Police received four reports about him and his driving before his BMW crossed the centre line and smashed into Russell's car after 11 p.m.
Police estimate he was travelling at 80 km/h in a 50-km/h zone. The front end of Russell's car was squished like an accordion.
Dubois, 25, wasn't hurt. A breathalyzer test showed his blood-alcohol level was 2 1/2 times the legal limit. In his apology to Russell and her family, Dubois said he fell into a depression after the crash and didn't leave his house for months.
"I was so ashamed of myself, I didn't know what to do with my life," he said. "Someone could have lost their life because of my choices. . . . The amount of pain and suffering I caused Riley and the Russell family is something I'll . . . regret for the rest of my life."
Russell, now 20, said she wishes Dubois delivered his apology to her and not the judge.
"I could have taken it more to heart. It was very emotional for me to hear, especially to hear him use my first name," she said. "Part of me wants to believe yes it's heartfelt, but too much of me is still angry."
Russell is suing Dubois for causing her pain and suffering. His private insurance covers $1 million worth of liability, and he may have to pay more.
Judge Mark Takahashi said Dubois' high concentration of alcohol, previous conviction for driving over the legal limit, two prior speeding convictions and Russell's long-lasting injuries were aggravating factors.
The judge acknowledged that Dubois pleaded guilty, which saved Russell from testifying, has stopped drinking and has taken courses to address his addiction. However, his sentence must send a message to others that there's no excuse for drinking and driving, Takahashi said.
"Mr. Dubois, you're a man of substantial potential, but you unfortunately had a short period of bad judgment which had serious and tragic consequences."
Dubois has done all that can be expected since the collision and appears to be addressing his rehabilitation, the judge said. He made no probation order.
Russell has resumed her music career. She used crutches when she performed in May and has had several gigs since then, she said.