Drunk driving destroys lives. Four people every day are killed in Canada as the result of drug and alcohol-related crashes, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
The heartbreaking statistic is one that a Saskatchewan family is hoping to change by turning their painful tragedy into a powerful message.
On Wednesday, the family of Danille Kerpan unveiled one of many truck trailers that will now display the 25-year-old’s photo as part of an anti-impaired driving message.
It is a bittersweet awareness campaign for the family because they would give anything to have Danille back.
“On Oct. 10, 2014, our daughter Danille was driving home from Saskatoon to Davidson and even though there were 16 or so 911 calls to try and stop him, an impaired driver coming the wrong way down the divided highway – hit her,” Danille’s mother Melanie said as she addressed a crowd in Saskatoon.
“Her boyfriend was just ahead of her and witnessed the crash. We got the knock on the door to wake us at one in the morning – our lives had changed forever.”
Danille’s death was 100 per cent preventable, as are all drunk driving collisions.
“People are just not getting it, that is not going to happen to them – that they’re immune,” Patricia Hynes Coates, national president for MADD Canada, said.
“I’m here, living proof to tell you that it will happen, it can happen. It’s time for each one of us to be accountable for what we do and if you suspect an impaired driver, call 911 and report that person.”
Statistics from last year showed that Saskatchewan maintains the highest rates of impaired driving of all Canadian provinces.
Statistics Canada data revealed that Saskatchewan’s 575 drunk driving charges per 100,000 population is nearly triple the national rate, and over five times the rate in Ontario.
“Drinking and driving is not acceptable and it’s not socially acceptable because sometimes I think we in Saskatchewan forget that and people think, many people still think it’s social acceptable to drink and drive,” Danille’s father, Allan Kerpan, said.
In 2012, RTL-Westcan began putting these decals on their fleet of truck trailers to remind drivers on the road about the dangers of drunk driving.
Five victims, including Danille, are now featured on nearly 200 trailers so that first responders will never have to tell another family devastating news.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult things a police officer does throughout the course of their career,” Bonnie Ferguson, operations officer for the central district with RCMP, said.
“You know these are loved ones that we’re saying have been taken away from them, it’s permanent and it’s as a result of someone’s actions to have a drink and getting into a vehicle and that has to stop.”
The day of her death, Danille told her sister during a conversation that if she could just change one life for the better – her own would be fulfilled.
“By this program she’s hopefully going to make a difference in a lot of people’s lives,” her father said.
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