A powerful message about the destructive and sweeping effects of drinking and driving unfolded in a Calgary courtroom Friday during a sentencing hearing for a man who killed an 11-year-old girl.
Tammy Truong, 11, died after Karl Schwartz, 32, drunkenly sped through a red light in Sept. 2013, T-boning the family's minivan in the intersection of 52 St. and Erinwoods Dr. S.E.
Truong's parents and Schwartz delivered gut-wrenching statements and each spoke of feeling suicidal.
So crippled by grief, Trang Thi Nguyen sobbed and leaned into the Vietnamese interpreter who was also crying as she translated Nguyen's words about the loss of her "beloved daughter."
"I feel very lonely and sad," said Nguyen. "Often I'd like to take all the pills so I can die and meet my daughter."
Because of their own injuries in the crash neither parent was able to go to Tammy who was flung from their van in the crash and left "to die there all by herself."
"We are very heart broken and sad that we couldn't be beside our daughter when she passed."
'Sometimes I want suicide'
Tammy's father Son Minh Truong spoke about feeling desperate and heartbroken.
"Sometimes I want suicide," he said.
Schwartz's blood alcohol was twice the legal limit at the time of the accident. He pleaded guilty in November to impaired driving causing death.
Several of his family members described a gentle, now "fragile" family man who rarely drank and has become a "shadow of himself" in the wake of Tammy's death.
Schwartz's despair became so overwhelming after the crash, he tried to hang himself in the laundry room of his home before his wife found and saved him.
Schwartz's kids introduced to judge
Since the accident, Schwartz has lost 40 lbs and struggles with overwhelming guilt.
"I wish every day that I could trade places with her," he said to Tammy's family. "I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart."
Schwartz's lawyer Danusia Bourdon proposed a two year sentence, calling her client "a good man who made a terrible, terrible decision."
Before court began, Bourdon introduced Schwartz's three young children to the judge before they were taken out of the room. Schwartz had about a dozen family members there for support.
Prosecutor Meagan Blake asked Court of Queen's Bench Justice Neil Wittmann to consider a three year sentence.
Wittmann will deliver his decision on March 30.