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Teen tells of heartbreak after losing parents in crash

Megan Gillis, QMI Agency

OTTAWA - Their sentence is for life.

Sherrianne and Leo Paul Regnier's grieving family - including one of three orphaned daughters - shared their searing pain Wednesday at a sentencing hearing for the young driver who mowed the couple down on a rainy night two years ago.

Speeding and tires squealing, Simon Banke lost control of his souped-up Nissan 300ZX, careening into the high school sweethearts as they stood at a downtown bus stop after a night out to celebrate 20 years together.

Leo Paul Regnier and his wife Sherrianne were killed after being mowed down by a vehicle in Ottawa on September 16, 2010. (Facebook Photo)

Jokester Paul, who loved playing his guitar, died trapped under Banke's car. Gentle Sherrianne, who played the flute so tunefully, clung to life for three days.

"Before they died, I had truly considered my life perfect," 15-year-old Jessica Regnier wrote in a victim-impact statement. "My parents loved me.

"We were thrown into a world without a home, the two rocks I leaned on."

"His sentence will be over and our sentence is for life," said her grandmother, Helen Depatie, holding a picture of her smiling daughter.

Banke, 22, pleaded guilty to two counts of dangerous driving causing death.

Prosecutor Lisa Miles is seeking four years and a 10-year driving ban, arguing Judge Lynn Ratushny has to send a strong message to young men who drive like they're in the movie The Fast and the Furious, leaving innocent people dead in their wake.

Defence lawyer Joseph Addelman asked for nine to 12 months, arguing Banke is profoundly remorseful. A lengthier sentence won't restore to the Regnier family what they lost, he noted.

Banke is someone he'd be proud to have as a little brother, Addelman said. He overcame a home marred by unemployment and mental illness to pass the mechanic course at Algonquin College with near-perfect grades and has the unwavering support of his family, boss and pastor.

"I can only blame myself for causing three young girls to lose their parents," Banke told the family. "If there was anything I could do to change the past, I would. If there was an opportunity to switch places with Paul and Sherrianne, I would."

Jessica Regnier wrote she bears Banke no ill will and offered a glimpse of hope amid devastation. Even while grieving for her parents, she's an honour student, air cadet and in multiple bands with her flute.

"I am living to the best of my ability for them," she wrote.

Banke will be sentenced Sept. 27.

Twitter: @ottawasun_megan