It was an emotional day in court for the family of a man killed by an impaired driver as they faced the woman who was behind the wheel.

Mark Burnett, 55, was on his way to work the morning of July 10, 2013 when he collided head-on with another vehicle in Lawrencetown, N.S. around 6 a.m.

The two women in the other car were thrown from their vehicle but Burnett was trapped inside his. He was eventually extricated and sent to hospital, but was pronounced dead upon arrival. 

The driver, Kyla MacLellan, still requires surgery on her leg and her friend suffered a broken leg and broken jaw in the crash.

The 21-year-old Lake Echo woman pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death and impaired driving causing bodily harm earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the court heard she had been drinking with some friends at Lawrencetown Beach overnight. She left the beach to take a friend home so she could get a key to her boyfriend before he left for work.

MacLellan and her friend made it safely to the apartment and, once the boyfriend had left for work, MacLellan got behind the wheel again as she and her friend wanted to watch the sunrise.

That’s when she collided with Burnett’s car.

MacLellan apologized for her actions, saying she had been irresponsible and takes full responsibility for Burnett’s death.

“I’m really, really, really sorry and there’s really nothing I can say to make any of this better,” she said in court.

But her words brought little comfort to Burnett’s wife, who says she lost her best friend and soul mate that day.

“This was very preventable,” says Andrea Burnett. “To me there’s no difference from what she did, getting behind that wheel, especially now that I know she had already stopped somewhere and was off the road, and went back on the road, than walking up behind my husband and taking a gun and blowing his brains out.”

Burnett served in the Navy and was less than two years away from retirement. His son, Andrew Burnett, says his father was a hero.

“He was the one who called 911 to get the first responders there, he was the one that, when the first responder showed up, told them to take care of the others before himself,” says Andrew.

“He walked my sister down the aisle a couple months before he was killed because we lost our dad to a terminal illness years before, so he stepped right up and was there for us,” says Burnett’s niece, Tanya Nixon. “He’s going to be missed by everybody. He was loved by everybody.”

The Crown is recommending five years in prison for impaired driving causing death and three more to be served concurrently for impaired driving causing bodily harm.

The defence is suggesting MacLellan be sentenced to three years in prison.

Anissa Aldridge, president of the Halifax chapter of MADD Canada, says there should be tougher sentences for impaired drivers.

“It was a hundred per cent preventable. We need to get a little tougher on the sentencing so that people take this very seriously,” says Aldridge. “There are four Canadians that are killed every single day by an impaired driver.”

The judge will hand down her sentence on Sept. 4.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster