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Judge hears from family, friends of Edmonton couple killed by impaired driving crash during Friday sentencing hearing

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Family and friends of an Edmonton couple killed in an impaired driving crash packed into a courtroom for the sentencing hearing Friday.

In fact, there were so many people, the proceedings were moved to a larger courtroom.

On August 14, 2022, 68-year-old Jim and 63-year-old Annie Macdonald were out for a routine motorcycle ride on High 628, just south of Sherwood Park.

Their motorcycle was hit head-on by a car – killing them.

Last September, 30-year-old Taylor Yaremchuk of Sherwood Park pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death.

During the hearing, the couple's daughter, Breigh Cohen was first to read a victim impact statement.

"My family’s life was shattered," she said.

"I didn’t just lose one parent. I lost both my mom and my dad."

Cohen described herself as a 'daddy's girl,' telling the court he was her best friend.

"My parents were amazing parents, but I can tell you they were even better grandparents," she said as she went on to describe the impact the sudden, preventable loss has had on all three of her children.

"They should still have more time with their grandparents," said Cohen. "The heartache will last their lifetime."

"We have been sentenced to a lifetime of grief," she continued.

Another woman, a friend of the Macdonalds for nearly two decades, sobbed as she read her statement next.

She looked directly at Yaremchuk as she said, "because of you my life has been negatively altered."

"My life will never be complete without Jim and Annie," she said.

Yaremchuk, who was seated next to his lawyer, looked straight ahead as the statements were read.

The Crown prosecutor read a statement from Jim's younger brother Hugh Macdonald.

"This has left an emptiness and hole in my heart," the Crown read.

His statement also pointed out that Yaremchuk was a bartender at the time the crash happened.

"He was fully aware that alcohol and driving do not mix," read the Crown. "Two lives were tragically taken and should not be lumped together."

Hugh's statement finished by saying he does not forgive Yaremchuk for taking his brother and sister-in-law.

In total, Justice Shaina Leonard heard 17 victim impact statements during the hearing.

The Crown is asking for five years imprisonment and a seven year driving prohibition for each count, to be served concurrently.

The defence has asked for three to five years.

Justice Leonard is expected to give her decision May 27. 

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