‘Nothing about this is right’: Victim impact statements read at wine festival sentencing
Published Wednesday, September 27, 2017 12:03PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 27, 2017 6:47PM EDT
Victim impact statements were heard at the Shores of Erie Wine Festival sentencing Wednesday morning.
The festival was found guilty of allowing a minor to consume alcohol and failing to inspect ID on Sept. 11 by Justice of the Peace Mike Hurst.
Emily Bernauer, 18, died in a car crash after working in a food tent at the event on Sept. 6, 2014.
On Wednesday, Kim Bernauer, Emily's mom read her victim impact statement. She talked about what a bright light Emily was.
"I have never seen a person live their life so fully every day,” read Kim Bernauer. “You are the person I strive to be."
She also addressed the festival chairs saying, "you failed to provide a safe working environment…trusting you will be the greatest regret of our lifetime."
Kim Bernauer said since the accident, her husband has suffered from two heart conditions and she now battles depression.
Priscilla Bernauer, Emily's sister, also read a victim impact statement. She told the court, "nothing about this is right. I never want life without her to be normal."
A video showing pictures of Emily that was made by her brother Christian was played for the court.
Defence lawyer Pat Ducharme told Justice Hurst that the women who ran the festival were also mothers and dedicated a great deal of time to volunteering in the community.
He presented a file filled with letters of recommendation.
"It's important to point out the organizers developed a number of safety precautions and procedures," Ducharme said.
He outlined that the festival funded ride programs and hired individuals with Smart Serve training and security to monitor personal consumption. He said 176 festival volunteers had Smart Serve credentials.
Ducharme asked the judge to consider that Emily Bernauer was using her phone while driving and did not have a seatbelt on. He said she also had marijuana in her system.
Ducharme did not provide a number but asked Justice Hurst to impose a "modest fine."
Crown Scott Kerwin said the organizers have shown a lack of remorse and have pointed the blame at others.
"The sentence has to serve as a warning to others."
He asked Justice Hurst to consider a fine that is substantial and significant enough to warn others and suggested it be in the range of $75,000 per count.
The fines can be as high as $500,000 and $250,000.