Justine Ellis says every time she looks at her five-week-old baby, Coby Stuart Ellis, she says she thinks of her late husband, Stuart.
“He’s honestly the most perfect newborn. I’m so grateful he is because I don’t know what I would do if he wasn’t,” Justine told Global News at the Barrie home she just moved into with her parents.
“He sleeps amazing and eats well and is growing great, and it’s a blessing for sure.”
It was on Nov. 13 when Justine’s 28-year-old husband was killed in a two-car crash on Highway 48 near Davis Drive in Newmarket. The driver of the other car, 20-year-old Tyler Nielsen of Toronto, was charged with impaired driving causing death. The couple had a 14-month-old little boy named Grayson and on the day Stuart was killed, Justine was exactly six weeks pregnant.
She said most of their friends were not even aware they were expecting, but Justine decided to tell people given the tragedy.
“I had just started telling my family and I hadn’t even told some of my good friends. It was still so early,” she said.
“So unfortunately when I was telling people what had happened to Stu, I was also telling them I was pregnant too. So that was not the best way obviously, but I wanted them to find out before it had gotten out anywhere else.”
After a physically- and emotionally-trying pregnancy, Justine gave birth on July 20 — 11 days after her due date. She said the day Coby was born was one of the best days of her life and one of the hardest.
“Doing it without Stu was impossible, but somehow I did it. Thankfully I had my amazing mom by my side to do it, and my dad was home with Grayson so I knew he was okay,” Justine said.
Justine’s father is a superintendent with York Regional Police and her mother was an OPP breathalyzer technician. She said her parents offered to let Justine and the kids live with them to help her out.
As a result, Justine has decided to rent out the home she lived in with her late husband to cover the mortgage until she decides what to do next, saying she doesn’t want to make any major decisions too soon after Stuart’s death.
Justine said every day she looks at the children, especially the new baby, she thinks of Stuart.
“He looks so much like his dad. Even Stu’s mom looks at him and says it’s crazy how much he looks like him,” she said.
“It’s amazing and also hard at the same time. I mean every time I look at him, I see his dad which is beautiful but also really tough.”
Justine said she is determined to fight to teach others that impaired driving is deadly.
“I just want to get the message out to not drink and drive, to not do drugs and drive, like any type of impaired driving, it’s just not worth it,” she said.
“It doesn’t makes sense to me why it’s still happening.”
Justine said she believes sentencing is too lenient for those convicted of impaired driving and says anyone charged with impaired driving causing death should actually be charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is what happens in the U.S.
“I think our justice system is our problem. People get off too easy. If first offences were taken more seriously, then maybe people would stop,” she said.
“The short amount of time that people get for killing people — it blows my mind how horrible our system is.”