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P.E.I. woman injured in drunk driving crash says she thought she was going to die

Stephen Paul Collings covers his face after an appearance in P.E.I. Supreme Court on Friday. Collings is awaiting sentencing on three counts of drunk driving causing bodily harm.
Stephen Paul Collings covers his face after an appearance in P.E.I. Supreme Court on Friday. Collings is awaiting sentencing on three counts of drunk driving causing bodily harm. - Ryan Ross
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

A P.E.I. woman who was seriously injured in a single-vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver says she still feels the effects of it in every part of her life.

The woman was in P.E.I. Supreme Court Friday during a sentencing hearing for Stephen Paul Collings, who previously pleaded guilty to three counts of drunk driving causing bodily harm.

While she was on the stand reading her victim impact statement, the woman talked about the lingering effects of the crash and her still present fear.

That includes sometimes staying in her house for days because she worries about getting hurt.

“I feel very breakable,” she said.

Collings previously pleaded guilty to the Aug. 18, 2019, offences after a collision in the Gaspereaux area during which three passengers were ejected from a vehicle.

All three passengers were injured, as was Collings who left the scene despite a fractured neck and a brain bleed.

Paramedics later picked him up and took him to hospital.

The victim, who was in court Friday, had injuries that included a lacerated liver and spleen, a fractured collarbone and a brain bleed.

The court heard she lost parts of her liver and her gallbladder.

As she read her victim impact statement, the woman said that after the accident she couldn’t move and kept asking for help.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said.

In her statement, the woman talked about her long road to recovery that included waking up in a Halifax hospital with a tube down her throat, having to be tube fed for several weeks and learning how to walk again.

Scars on her body have affected her self-esteem, the woman said, and she has burns from hot liquids pouring on her from the crashed vehicle.

She said the accident also left her with a traumatic brain injury.

Since the accident, she doesn’t sleep well, she sometimes dreams she is back at the accident scene again and she has flashbacks, the woman said.

“The memories of this accident haunt me to this day.”

In his submissions, Crown attorney Chad McQuaid recommended a sentence in the range of 18 months to two years less a day for Collings who had a prior related conviction in 2000.

The court heard a blood sample taken from Collings was used to determine his blood alcohol level at the time of the accident.

An extrapolation determined it would have been around 1.5 to more than twice the legal limit.

McQuaid said the gravity of the offence was significant, and Collings made the choice to drive.

“That fault lies solely on him,” McQuaid said.

As defence lawyer Brendan Hubley made his submissions, Collings sat behind him in the public gallery, at times rubbing his face and holding his head in his hands.

Hubley said Collings made a poor decision to drive that day after having drinks with some friends on a boat.

“He can’t go back in time and he can’t change that.”

Collings is remorseful for what happened, Hubley said.

“He’ll live with this for the rest of his life.”

In his submissions, Hubley suggested a sentence in the range of eight to 10 months would be appropriate.

Collings also addressed the court Friday and stood at the defence table as he apologized to several people, including the victim who was in court.

“It was a foolish mistake on my part that I can never live down,” he said.

Clements adjourned the matter until April 1 when she will sentence Collings.

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