Carol Berner

Driver who killed South Surrey preschooler deemed a low risk to reoffend

Victim’s family expresses hope for Carol Berner’s future, maintains those impacted by impaired driving 'deserve better' from courts

The woman responsible for killing toddler Alexa Middelaer while drinking and driving 6½ years ago was released from jail this week.

Carol Ann Berner’s freedom follows 18 months behind bars, and includes five conditions she must abide by for the next year; until the end of her 30-month sentence.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Alexa’s mother, Laurel Middelaer – who is head of Southridge Junior School in South Surrey – reiterates concerns that despite efforts to influence changes in the criminal justice system, sentences for those charged with impaired driving causing death or bodily harm remain lax.

“Those criminally charged with impaired driving including fatalities or bodily harm still hear the silent and reluctant voice from the court room,” Middelaer writes.

“As a province, as a community, as families – simply put – we deserve better.”

Berner, now 62, was found guilty in July 2010 of two counts of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm and two counts of impaired driving causing death and bodily harm, after losing control of her car on a Delta street in May 2008, striking and killing four-year-old Alexa – who attended preschool in Crescent Beach – and seriously injuring her aunt.

She was sentenced in November 2010 to 2½ years in jail and a five-year driving ban, and subsequently lost appeals of her convictions and sentence in both provincial and Supreme Court.

She began serving her sentence in March 2013 – nearly five years after the crash that killed Alexa.

For Middelaer, Berner’s statutory release Tuesday “is not about Carol Berner.”

“As a family, we have come to a full understanding of Carol – our hope is that she now chooses to contribute to her community and family in a productive manner, hopefully surrounding herself with a peer group that will help her grow in character and strength.”

In the Oct. 17 parole-board decision, Berner is described as a low risk to reoffend, with “a lack of insight into the nature of your alcohol problem… (and) a limited understanding of your mental-health issues and their link to alcohol.”

For the duration of her sentence, Berner is not to drive, consume alcohol or attend drinking establishments. She must also participate in a treatment plan for substance abuse and “emotions management.”

Contact with the surviving victims or their family members is also prohibited.

“The victims of your offence and their families have the right to be free from unwanted contact from you,” the decision states.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

White Rock/South Surrey experts launch website of mental-health resources

Together White Rock/South Surrey aims to help ease the search for supports

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read