A memorial for Amanda Woodthorpe at the site of the crash on Lougheed Highway.

A memorial for Amanda Woodthorpe at the site of the crash on Lougheed Highway.

Guilty plea in drunk driving death

Maple Ridge resident Trevor Livingston to be sentenced in May for a crash that killed his girlfriend Amanda Woodthorpe

A Maple Ridge man has pleaded guilty to drunk-driving in a crash that killed his girlfriend almost four years ago.

Trevor Livingston entered the plea to one count of impaired driving causing death Thursday in New Westminster Supreme Court, several months before a trial was set to begin.

He will return to court for sentencing in May. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

“I can’t go into the specifics of sentencing at this point,” said Crown spokesperson Neil MacKenzie.

In addition to the charge of impaired driving causing death, Livingston faces one count each of dangerous driving causing death and having a blood alcohol content over .08 while in care or control of vehicle. Those charges will most likely be stayed.

Livingston, 23, is accused of being behind the wheel of a silver Audi on March 8, 2010, when it slammed into a pole in Pitt Meadows, killing 19-year-old Amanda Woodthorpe.

The Maple Ridge teen was removed from the crumpled wreck by people passing by. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Pitt Meadows fire department used the jaws of life to extract Livingston from the car. He was airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster with serious head and internal injuries. He spent almost a month in a drug-induced coma.

Two passengers in the back seat – a 20-year-old man and 19-year-old woman – were also injured.

The four were returning home from a night out at Rooster’s Country Cabaret in Pitt Meadows when the car crashed.

The Woodthorpe family did not want to comment on Livingston’s guilty plea until sentencing, but once again reminded people that drinking and driving can have devastating consequences.

According to Statistics Canada, in 2011 there were 121 incidents of impaired driving causing death and a further 839 incidents of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

For Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the statistics are a stark reminder that some Canadians have yet to heed their message.

MADD Canada’s national president Denise Dubyk commended Livingston for his plea, adding it will spare the family a lengthy trial.

After years of effort by MADD Canada, victims of impaired driving and others, the federal government enacted Bill C-9 in 2010, which eliminated conditional sentences for violent crimes, including impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Rather than advocating for minimum sentences, MADD Canada believes the penalties must reflect the gravity of the offence, the offender’s behaviour and the irreparable harm that results from a drunk driving death.

“Looking at sentencing for impaired drivers is very important for MADD because impaired driving for some reason has somewhat been taken lightly when it comes to the courts,,” said Dubyk.

“Victims are left often wondering what in the world is happening. You feel that there are certain sentences that should come down and they don’t. Over the years, we’ve seen some lenient sentences.”

MADD Canada plans to track Livingston’s case and its final outcome.