Catherine McKay’s blood-alcohol level was three times the legal limit when she crashed her SUV into a car at Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road, killing a family of four, a Crown prosecutor says.

The 49-year-old woman was sentenced Wednesday at Saskatoon Provincial Court to 10 years behind bars after Judge Barry Singer accepted a joint submission from the Crown and defence. She was also banned from driving for 12 years after her release and banned from possessing weapons for 10 years.

She will serve nine years and two months in prison after time served.

“Nobody came in to this happy or is leaving happy, but at the end of the day it’s, I think, an increase and hopefully a step in the right direction for our province,” said Crown prosecutor Michael Pilon, referring to the 10-year sentence, outside court.

Past sentences for similar convictions — excluding a recent 10-year sentence handed out in Ontario against Marco Muzzo — have usually ranged around seven years across the country, according to Pilon.

“The range in the country, up until this year, has been disgusting. I don’t think there’s a better word to describe it. Ten years is a big jump over the seven, seven-and-a-half that have been previously done.”

McKay had pleaded guilty last month to four counts of impaired driving causing death in connection to the Jan. 3 collision that killed parents Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst, and their two young children, Kamryn and Miguire.

Pilon told court McKay was driving 120 kilometres per hour at the time of the crash and had more than seven drinks before attempting the drive home that night. She had two-and-a-half glasses of wine at her house before drinking four more beverages and a shot at two bars, according to Pilon.

Staff at the first bar offered her a ride when she tried to leave. She ended up driving herself to another bar and sang karaoke before being cut off from ordering additional drinks, Pilon said.

She was headed the opposite direction of her home on Avenue D when she ran her SUV through a stop sign and struck the Van de Vorst’s car, according to the Crown. She was trying to cross Highway 11.

Jordan and Chanda died at the scene. Five-year-old Kamryn and two-year-old Miguire died in hospital.

Pilon said McKay was so drunk she thought her vehicle was hit. She was so “out of it” she was yelling about finding her cellphone.

Family members and friends of the Van de Vorsts were sobbing during Wednesday’s hearing. More than a dozen victim impact statements were read.

“In a big way, I’ve lost my joy of life,” said Jordan’s father Lou Van de Vorst. He will no longer be able to hug his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren, or tell them he loves them, he said.

Jordan’s mother Linda Van de Vorst said she felt like she had been given four life sentences.

“I have been given four life sentences with no chance of parole ever,” she said.

Kamryn and Miguire’s aunt, who was with Miguire when he died, described the event as heart-wrenching.

Kamryn’s kindergarten teacher described the difficulties of explaining the sudden death of a classmate to a room full of five-year-old children, and the first police officer on scene said no other emergency call has compared to the crash.

The officer, who has three sons of his own, told court he remembers Miguire gripping his pinky finger. He went to his patrol car to cry after the incident, he said.

McKay was visibly upset during the victim impact statements. She held a tissue as the statements were read, wincing and crying.

Sullivan, her lawyer, said McKay, who has five children and four grandchildren, has taken full responsibility for the crash since day one.

Four of McKay’s children, her boyfriend and members of the Elizabeth Fry Society were in court supporting her, and several letters calling her a devoted mother and a kind, caring person were read by Sullivan.

Pilon said McKay was very remorseful once she found out the seriousness of the collision.

--- based on a report from CTV Saskatoon's Angelina Irinici