'Changed my life forever': Friends of 3 killed in 2020 crash share loss as sentencing hearing continues
Friends and family of the three people killed in a 2020 crash shared emotional victim impact statements Tuesday as the sentencing hearing for the driver of the vehicle continued into its second day.
Oscar Benjumea, 26, pleaded guilty in May to three counts of dangerous driving causing death in the July 3, 2020 crash when he plowed his sportscar into a Starbucks along Calgary Trail. He also pleaded guilty to a fourth count of failing to stop at accident involving death.
His sentencing hearing began on Monday in Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Edmonton.
On Tuesday, court heard from friends of Georgia Donovan, a 21-year-old woman who was one of Benjumea’s three passengers that evening.
“The night Georgia passed away has changed my life forever,” reads the victim impact statement from Donovan’s boyfriend.
He described texting with her the night of the crash, and never getting the text he asked her to send when she arrived home.
"We had many plans for our future together. But that was cut extremely short," his statement reads. "She was an angel on earth and is now an angel in heaven"
Other friends described their emotional pain and subsequent mental health issues, including a fear of entering a vehicle.
“I will forever feel uneasy on the road,” said Alaina Morrison, Donovan’s friend.
‘SO FAST MY VEHICLE SHOOK’
On Monday, court heard an agreed statement of facts outlining the events before and after the crash..
It outlined how Benjumea was driving his 2018 Audi R S5 at a speed of up to 193 km/h in an area with a posted speed limit of 60 km/h.
Court heard that he and his three other passengers had met at a Whyte Avenue bar, shared drinks and left in the Audi just after 2 a.m.
A witness told investigators the Audi was travelling "so fast my vehicle shook when he drove by us" as he drove south on Calgary trail.
Benjumea lost control of the vehicle, hitting a curb and sending the vehicle airborne before it slid across a grass area and slamming into the Starbucks near 55 Avenue.
The impact sheared off the passenger side of the vehicle as well as the roof and parts of the hood, leaving the engine exposed.
A 911 call played in court from a witness who pulled Benjumea from the wreckage described an injured, disoriented and suicidal Benjumea wandering around the crash site.
Court also saw surveillance video showing the Audi crash into the Starbucks before Benjumea fled the area by making his way through parking lots of several businesses along Calgary Trail.
‘NOTHING WILL BE THE SAME AGAIN’
Emma Macarthur, 20, Faisal Yousef, 32, as well as Donovan were all killed in the crash and declared dead at the scene. Only Benjumea and Donovan were wearing seatbelts.
Benjumea was arrested 10 hours later at his home in southwest Edmonton and taken to hospital with cuts, a fractured arm, and broken fingers.
On Monday afternoon, court began hearing what is expected to total 51 victim impact statements.
Yousef's mother said, "Nothing will be the same again," while describing her loss.
"I am no longer the person I used to be," she said. "I cannot fathom that someone considered to be a good friend would do that to him."
Macarthur's aunt told the court that, "There is a knot in my stomach."
"This void in our life will never go away."
The hearing will continue with sentencing submissions in early December.