MacDonald family shares in court the heartbreak of losing daughter

After more than three years of waiting, grieving mother Andrea MacDonald was able to have her day in court.

After more than three years of waiting, grieving mother Andrea MacDonald was able to have her day in court.

Taking the witness stand, MacDonald gave an emotional victim impact statement in Supreme Court Wednesday describing her life after the death of her oldest daughter Rayel, 20, who was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by an alcohol-impaired Martin Gentles April 22, 2012.

“My husband Dave and I are living a nightmare,” MacDonald said while friends, family and police sat listening in the courtroom.

“Our family died along with Rayel. Our hearts are still beating but we are shells of our former selves.”

Gentles, 30, who is awaiting sentencing on one count of impaired driving and one count of fleeing the scene of a collision in relation to the matter, remained quiet with his head down during the readings, given by Andrea and Rayel’s sister, Rilla-Lee, who sobbed when she gave hers.

“Not many people are lucky enough to be born with a friend, but I was,” Rilla-Lee said. “Any struggle I ever faced I never faced it alone. Rayel was always keeping me strong and supporting me.”

When Rayel died, half of her died, she said.

“The loss of a person so fully a part of yourself and who you are is completely unfathomable and I feel like I’ve lost a limb.”

Her sister’s death is something she will never recover from, she added.

Crown counsellor Julie Dufour asked for a three- to three-and-a-half-year sentence, a one-year prohibition from driving and a secondary DNA test order.

Defence lawyer Ken Walker asked for a conditional sentence to be served in the community with higher than normal fines, noting Gentles is the sole supporter of his family.

In a statement read by Walker, Gentles said he felt so much regret and wished he would have been able to change the outcome.

“Above all else I know what I did was wrong. It is not the person I want to become, nor is it the kind of example I want to set for my son.”

Gentles asked the judge to consider the fact he needs to provide for his family, but at the same time said he realized he must answer for his actions.

“More than anything I wish for closure for this grieving family, my own family and for all those impacted by this terrible accident.”

Gentles recounted a troubled upbringing, coming from a bad childhood environment.

“It has been a constant struggle,” he said. “My mother passed away when I was almost 20 years old, leaving me essentially homeless, working several jobs and dealing with major amounts of grief.”

The decision the night of the collision was a major collapse in judgement, Gentles added.

Later when Justice John D. Truscott asked Gentles if he wanted to say something to the family directly, he stood facing the judge and said quietly if he could take back that night he would.

“I deeply impacted the family and my family. Nothing I can do will ever change that.”

In her victim impact statement made before Gentles’ statement was read, Andrea said her struggle every day has been made worse by the realization there has been no apology and no sadness expressed by Gentles.

“I’ve been saddened by the lack of character the accused has shown toward us and toward Rayel. Someone who is of honour would have never put our family through this,” she said.

Rayel’s death was completely senseless, she added.

“Why didn’t anyone stop them from driving that night? Their friends, anyone at the bar that night, had the power to change the outcome. If they had stopped the accused and his passenger, our beautiful daughter Rayel would still be here on this earth doing what she did the best, loving and giving to others.”

Truscott adjourned the court to reconvene at 3:30 p.m. today, July 8, for sentencing, however, he said he could not promise that he would be ready to sentence Gentles today.

Just Posted

Scout Island Nature Centre. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
LETTER: Scout Island causeway important riparian habitat

We appreciate this opportunity to clarify how Scout Island Nature Centre lands is managed

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Crews work to repair Horsefly Road east of Williams Lake . (Ministry of Transportation video)
MoTI activates district operations centre, response to flood damaged roads in Cariboo region

Engineers, experts being pulled from across the province to help

RCMP officers on scene Friday, May 14 off Bond Lake Road on the outskirts of Williams Lake. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Update: Williams Lake RCMP arrest one suspect after firearms incident near Bond Lake Road

Given the severity, suspect is being held in custody for a court appearance

An official naming ceremony for the Nekw7usem Bridge connecting the RC Cotton Trail to Scout Island will take place Monday, May 17 at noon. (Patrick Davies file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
City, WLFN hosting naming ceremony for Nekw7usem Bridge in Williams Lake

The pedestrian bridge connects the RC Cotton Trail to Scout Island

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Chilliwack’s Kile Brown, performing as drag queen Hailey Adler, dances and lip syncs in front of hundreds of people during the inaugural Chilliwack Pride Barbecue at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre on Aug. 24, 2019. Monday, May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of May 16 to 22

International Day Against Homophobia, Talk Like Yoda Day, Sea Monkey Day all coming up this week

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Most Read