‘I don’t know who I am anymore’: Mother of 3 children killed in impaired driving crash describes life after their death
Jennifer Neville-Lake was a devoted mother to her three young children but a car crash that happened almost three years ago robbed her of the opportunity to watch them grow up.
On Sept. 27, 2015, Daniel, 9, Harrison, 5 and Milly, 2, were killed in an impaired driving collision at the intersection of Kirby Road and Kipling Avenue in Vaughan, Ont.
The children’s grandfather, Gary Neville, was also killed.
Neville-Lake spoke with Global News and said she is not the same person she was before the crash.
“I don’t know who I am anymore. There’s no easy way because there are no identities. There are no parts of me. I’m still trying to sift through them to see what’s left because it’s still so surreal,” she said.
“I know everybody wants to hear that I’m okay and that there is a happy ending but there isn’t. This is an absolutely horrific journey.”
When looking around her and her husband’s home in Brampton, Ont., Neville-Lake said she still can’t believe her children are gone.
“They should be there,” she said.
“Some time in the next couple of weeks … Milly will be one day more dead than she was alive and that’s something most parents don’t think about but I’ll have to go through it three times and that’s horrific.”
WATCH: Jennifer Neville-Lake speaks about the foundation inspired by her children, father
Neville-Lake said she reflects on her children and their unique qualities that she loved so dearly and when thinking about her eldest son, Daniel, she recalls a gentle boy who had an affinity for ballet.
“Daniel was the peacekeeper,” she said.
“[He] loved ballet… it was my Mother’s Day present every year I would go to the Rose Theatre and get to watch him perform on stage and it was amazing.”
WATCH: Mother of 3 kids who were killed by drunk driver talks about her loss
Harrison, Neville-Lake’s youngest son was an amputee who had also faced other health concerns, but she added her son took his health pressures in stride.
“[Harry had] so many different layers to him and [was] so sweet inside,” she said.
“He loved beauty… he was always picking up dandelions and he would bring them to you just because you were ‘boo-tiful.’”
But Neville-Lake expressed regret when thinking of her two-year-old daughter, Milly, saying she didn’t know her as well as her brothers.
“She seemed to be very thoughtful if she was watching,” Neville-Lake said.
“And she was always watching, I could feel her watching and the wheels turning… She was happy. She liked to explore”
Neville-Lake was also forced to grieve the loss of her father, who was also killed in the collision and she describes him as “quirky” and he loved spending time with his grandchildren.
Timeline: the hours leading up to the impaired driving collision kills three children and their grandfather
“He retired a few months after Daniel was born …he was with the kids so much,” she said.
“If I said we weren’t coming for a weekend because the kids had a birthday party, my dad would be like ‘where’s the party?’… he would literally plan my weekends to include King City no matter what so that he could spend time with them.”
The collision has left Neville-Lake angry and resentful, words that she says wouldn’t have been used to describe herself before the crash.
“There’s always anger because this isn’t right. This isn’t fair. I’ve always said I’m a Catholic, not a saint. I resent. I hate [and] those aren’t words that I would have associated with me before,” she said.
“If that impaired driver hadn’t been on the road that day I wouldn’t be here with you now. I would maybe be at Milly’s kindergarten graduation because that’s where she would be, she’d be starting grade one in the fall.”
Marco Muzzo, who was 29 years old at the time of the collision, was driving the Jeep that caused the fatal crash.
After spending the weekend in Miami for his bachelor party, Muzzo and his friends flew back to Pearson International airport on a private jet.
Muzzo admitted he had been drinking on the flight back to Ontario and in February 2016, he plead guilty to four counts of driving under the influence causing death and two counts of driving under the influence causing bodily harm.
He is currently serving a 10 year jail time sentence and upon release will face a 12 year driving suspension.
Neville-Lake said she is choosing not to focus on Muzzo and the crash that killed her children and father, instead she is remembering their legacies.
“I’m choosing to focus not on who killed them [and] why they’re dead,” she said.
“To remember their passions, their legacies and to remember that Daniel was a ballet dancer, Harry wanted to be a girl and have long hair… and my Milly; that I felt like I never really got to know as well as I should have. I choose to focus on [the reasons and] their passions when they were alive and to hopefully share that with everybody else.”
Neville-Lake has devoted her time to Many Hands, Doing Good foundation which she created following the death of her children and father. The foundation’s name is created using the first letters of each of their names; Milly, Harrison, Daniel and Gary.
“My kids really loved dancing they really loved music…I thought, well how can we combine their passions but at the same time help out?” she said.
Many Hands, Doing Good will officially launch on July 3 at Luv 2 Play indoor playground in Richmond Hill, Ont. and it aims to provide music and art therapy to families who need support. Neville-Lake said it will be funded by money raised through the GoFundMe page for the family.
“People were so generous to us and we wanted to figure a way to come back and give it back to people,” Neville-Lake said.
“Helping kids has always been something that I’ve been very passionate about.”
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