Mom avoids jail time in drunken crash

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Sarnia Courthouse

Alex Kurial/Local Journalism Initiative

A drunk driver who caused a destructive head-on collision along the St. Clair Parkway has been spared jail time.

Christina Bell, 30, plead guilty in March to causing an August 2019 crash while intoxicated at more than double the legal limit.

Bell, with her nine year-old daughter in tow, was driving her SUV north on the parkway. As she passed Corunna, Bell suddenly swung into the opposite lane colliding head-on with a pickup truck.

Inside the Ford F-150 were a woman and her seven month-old grandson. The driver suffered three broken vertebrae, a fractured neck and bruises all over her body.

“I feel that I’ve been robbed in the role as a Grandma. I’m struggling emotionally with the slow pace of my recovery… and how much this has changed my life,” the woman read in her victim impact statement during sentencing.“There hasn’t been a day since the accident that I haven’t had pain… I am very frustrated that someone else’s decision… can affect and change everything for me and my family for the rest of my life.”

The Crown, David Rows, asked for up to a year and a half in jail saying “You have only to look as far as the victim impact statement to know and realize just how dramatic these events have been on the complainant.”

Bell, on the night of the accident, admitted “I probably shouldn’t have been driving.” Defence Lawyer Nick Cake says Bell was dealing with alcohol addiction and the morning after the crash threw out all the alcohol in her house and joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Cake says she’s been sober since that day.

“If Ms. Bell were to go into custody there are two children who would lose Mom… The entire family dynamic would be ripped apart,” Cake said.

Bell apologized during sentencing; “I failed my community, my family and everyone that day. Now that I realize I have a problem I am working hard everyday to put myself back on track. And I would like to continue doing that.”

Justice Anne McFadyen imposed an 18 month conditional sentence, the first half to be spent under house arrest and the second half under curfew. Two years of probation will follow. Bell is also banned from driving for three years. A civil suit against Bell by the injured woman is also pending.

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