Hearts 'shredded' when woman killed by drunk driver, sentencing told
Best friends Ashley Fogal, left, and Alyssa Blight shortly before leaving for a concert by country artist Miranda Lambert at Casino Rama Aug. 11, 2011. The women would be hit head-on and Fogal would die. (Supplied)
Hearts were “shredded to pieces” and a family was “sliced apart like a razor” when 23-year-old vibrant, beautiful Ashley Fogal was killed by an impaired driver who had just got out of rehab, a packed courtroom filled with sobbing friends and family heard Thursday.
“It hurts,” said best friend Alyssa Blight, who was beside her friend in the crash and crawled out of the catastrophic wreck alive.
Her eyes brimming with tears, she looked at the man responsible, who sat at the front of the court.
“Open your eyes,” she told him. “Ashley is gone. She was stolen from us by a man who made a thoughtless and selfish choice … or maybe he just didn’t care.”
Christopher Dubreuil, 27, of Cobourg, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing the death of Fogal. The young country music fan was all dressed up and wearing her cowboy boots on her way to a Miranda Lambert concert at Casino Rama, near Orillia, when her vehicle was struck head-on on Aug. 11, 2011.
Dubreuil had between 90 and 129 milligrams of alcohol in his system, along with the sedating drug Lorazepam, which would have intensified the effect of the alcohol. He was driving with his head down, possibly texting while driving, court heard.
Blight remembers seeing headlights in the darkness suddenly veering straight into their lane. There was nowhere to go.
“I remember climbing out the shattered window, battered and bruised,” Blight said, taking deep breaths, stammering and sobbing.
While Dubreuil claims he remembers nothing of the crash, and amazingly climbed out of his crumpled vehicle in no pain despite multiple broken bones, Blight remembers it all. Flashbacks and panic attacks haunt her daily life, she said.
“You are lucky,” she told Dubreuil. “I will remember for the rest of my life.”
Waiting for the girls at the concert that night, another friend said she had a gut feeling something terrible had happened. “I am filled with guilt because I asked her to come to the concert,” said Jessica Ulrich.
One after the other, friends and family walked to the front of the court to describe their heartache over the loss of the young woman who graduated on the dean’s list and “worked wonders” with disabled and mentally handicapped children in York Region.
They talked about Fogal growing up, chasing fire flies, catching frogs and running around with her favourite little white cowboy boots when she was three years old. Fogal had on her cowboy boots in her casket, and the tiny white boots were placed on top.
“I howled in agony when I learned my Ashley was killed,” Fogal’s grandmother, Liz, 80, said in a broken shaken voice. “So many lives, destroyed.”
The news from police that her daughter was dead knocked Fogal’s mother to the floor and she curled up in a fetal position in the hallway, weeping uncontrollably.
“I wanted to buy you a wedding dress, but instead, I bought you a headstone,” said Susan Fogal. “I ache for you, my baby girl.”
“I will never say goodbye,” said her little sister, Kaitlyn. “Fly high, my free bird.”
Sentencing submissions will continue April 17.