When Natasha MacDonald heard her cousin’s voice on the phone she knew there was something wrong.
She went to the hospital where she sat alone in a room, terrified because she didn’t know what was happening. That was when she overheard someone in the hallway say her mother had died.
“I sat with my head between my knees trying to breathe,” she said.
Those were some of the words that left most of the people packed into a Charlottetown courtroom in tears as they listened to victim impact statements from Stacy Cheverie’s family Thursday.
It was all part of the sentencing proceedings for Raymond Alfred Cantelo, who had pleaded guilty to driving drunk during an accident that killed Cheverie and seriously injured her husband Bernard Cheverie on Oct. 22, 2011.
Cantelo fled the scene.
MacDonald wasn’t able to read her statement so someone else did it for her, and in it she described the impact of her mother and best friend’s death.
“I will never be OK because my family has been destroyed,” she said.
She wrote about people often calling her Stacy by mistake because the two looked alike and she used to want to have her own identity.
“Now I embrace our similarity.”
That similarity also led to her father telling her one day that it was too painful too look at her because she sounded and looked so much like her mother.
MacDonald wrote that when she thinks about her mother she can barely breathe.
“I would do anything to have her back,” she said.
At 22 years old, she watched as her father came out of a coma from the accident, scanned the room looking for her mother and mouthed Stacy Cheverie’s name. MacDonald had to tell her father her mother had died.
She said it was the first time she had seen him cry.
Those feelings of love and loss were echoed in Stacy Cheverie’s mother Helen MacDonald’s victim impact statement as she recalled memories of her daughter, like how fond she was of her cat Lucy and her love of animals.
She described her daughter as beautiful and as kind as an angel in heaven.
“This day has changed my life forever and life will never be the same again,” she said.
Stacy Cheverie’s sister Joanne MacInnis said in her statement that she shudders every time she looks at pictures of her sister and wonders why she was taken from the family.
“Why did she have to die?” MacInnis said.
Cheverie was a nurse at a dialysis clinic who made cookies for her patients and her life meant so much to so many people, she said.
McInnis said her death left her sad, frustrated, angry and guilty.
“To be honest I cannot get on with my life.”
Cheverie’s brother Boyde MacDonald, his wife and Bernard Cheverie also wrote victim impact statements that weren’t read in the courtroom Thursday.
Karen Peters, Stacy Cheverie’s other sister, did read hers and wanted to know how Cantelo could look at her sister lying on the road and drive away.
“No one would leave a dog like that,” she said.
Cheverie won’t get to grow old and won’t get to watch her daughter grow up or get married, she said.
“This is a brutal fact.”
Peters said her sister’s loss has been hard and painful.
“We miss you Stacy Dawn and we will never forget your presence.”