‘I’ll be losing my second sister’
THE family of a woman who pleaded guilty to driving drunk and causing a crash that killed her younger sister have appealed for her to avoid jail.
Candice Lee Chmieluk, 31, pleaded guilty in Southport District Court on Monday to one charge of dangerously operating of a motor vehicle causing death while adversely affected by alcohol. She will be sentenced later today.
The court was told Chmieluk had been drinking with younger sister Sammy-Jo at a Gold Coast surf lifesaving club on May 29, 2016.
A short time after leaving the club, the car Chmieluk was driving crashed into a traffic light on the Gold Coast Highway at Palm Beach.
The impact tore the vehicle in two and Sammy-Jo was killed instantly.
A blood sample taken from Chmieluk returned a blood-alcohol level of 0.202, prosecutor Michael Connelly told the court.
Reading a victim impact statement, Chmieluk's older sister Kristy said her two younger siblings had been inseparable friends.
She said the accident and subsequent criminal proceedings had put the entire family's lives on hold.
"The loss of my baby sister has been utterly unbearable," Kristy told the court.
"But I have forgiven Candice.
"I don't know how I will cope if Candice is incarcerated … Candice has been given a life sentence by her behaviour.
"If she is sent to jail, I will be losing my second sister."
Family members have told the court of Chmieluk's mental health struggles after the crash as well as her dedication to raising her two young children as a single mother and attempts to undergo rehabilitation and psychological counselling.
It took police more than a year to charge Chmieluk.
The pair had only made it about 2km down the road before crashing.
The crash tore Candice's black Jeep into pieces before the remaining wreckage burst into flames with Sammy-Jo trapped inside.
Chmieluk was dragged to safety by bystanders but it is understood Sammy-Jo was killed instantly.