Monday marks the eve of a somber anniversary for the Van de Vorst family.
In the early morning hours of Jan. 3, 2016, two young children and their parents were broadsided by a drunk driver at the intersection of Highway 11 and Wanuskewin Road just north of Saskatoon.
Jordan Van de Vorst, 34, and his wife Chanda, 33 were declared dead at the scene. The couple’s children, Kamryn, 5, and Miguire, 2, would later die in hospital.
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The family of four was gone as the result of a single collision that should have been prevented and has left loved ones struggling at times to get through this Christmas.
“There were times when Christmas approached you get this heaviness, this almost depression,” Lou Van de Vorst, Jordan’s father, said.
“Things come up or you see things that remind you of your kids and you choke back a tear and then you keep on going.”
The family was so much more than the way they died. Jordan’s parents say they were a close-knit family that were kind and known for their signature smiles.
“They were a loving family and they were always giving,” Linda Van de Vorst, Jordan’s mother, said.
In July, Catherine McKay pleaded guilty to four counts of impaired driving causing death. Her blood alcohol level that day was three times the legal limit when she killed the family of four. She was handed a 10-year sentence.
This case also revealed an ugly truth about the province of Saskatchewan and that far to often impaired driving is seen as acceptable.
“She made a mistake, no one assisted to stop her and we all pay heavily for that price,” Linda said.
Just days ago as 2017 rung in, tougher impaired driving laws in the province kicked in.
They include zero-tolerance for people 21 and under, strengthening ignition interlock laws and a three-day vehicle seizure for drivers with blood-alcohol levels between .04 and .08.
Linda and Lou Van de Vorst say the laws are a good start but wish they went even further, in a province with the worst impaired driving rates in the country.
“I dread the news when I read that somebody has been killed by a drunk driver, I don’t want to hear that,” Linda said.
“I know how much misery and sorrow that family is going to have to suffer – it’s just not right. It’s just not right anymore, it never was.”
The couple says in the future they’d like to see zero-alcohol laws introduced for all drivers but for now expect motorists to use common sense.
“I’m saying if you’re going to drive then drive sober, if you’re going to drink then get somebody else to drive you home.”