A Kelowna woman was sentenced to 15 months in jail for an impaired driving crash that caused her co-worker’s death on Highway 97C near Merritt in March 2011.

On March 1, 2011, Amanda Freeman and her 30-year-old co-worker, Rafael Heredia, were on their way home to Kelowna after having a few drinks with co-workers at a pub in Summerland, court heard. Heredia started the drive but when they got to Merritt, he convinced Freeman to take the wheel, Judge Chris Cleaveley told court.

Freeman had her learner’s licence and road conditions were poor as it had started snowing.

While driving, she crossed the centre line and struck a transport truck.

Freeman was wearing her seatbelt and suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Heredia was not wearing his seatbelt when the vehicle crashed, Cleaveley said in court. He was partially ejected from the vehicle, casuing damage to his jugular vein and he bled to death, Crown Prosecutor William Burrows told the Herald.

Freeman’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit, Burrows said.

Prior to sentencing, Court heard statements from Freeman’s mother and fiance, as well as Freeman herself.

Her mother stated Freeman has been traumatized by the incident, causing her to act differently with family and friends.

Her fiance, Ryan Spring, asked that Freeman not be sent to jail as she has a one-year-old son with him and he wouldn’t want his son and mother separated due to jail time.

Spring also apologized to the wife of the deceased, Nicole Ribalkin, who was in court with some friends and family by her side.

Freeman, in her own statement, said she is haunted by and regrets this incident, which she will live with for the rest of her life.

At sentencing, Cleaveley said he believed Freeman’s remorse to be genuine. He also said Ribalkin’s victim impact statement stated her five-year-old son has feelings of insecurity and fear of being left alone.

The Crown requested at least 18 months in jail, citing decisions from the B.C. Appeal Court that suggest the minimum sentence in cases such as this one be 18 months. Burrows suggested a year probation as well.

Defence counsel Colby Johnson requested between six and 18 months of jail time, favouring a term closer to six months. He requested 18 months probation with six months served under house-arrest and a year under curfew.

Cleaveley also sentenced the 27-year-old to one year of probation and a three-year driving ban.

Johnson said to his knowledge, his client has not driven since the day of the accident nor has she had an alcoholic drink.