Lives changed forever: Winnipeg family deals with the aftermath of a fatal crash
It has been six months since Roy Hildebrand lost his daughter in a fatal car crash in Winnipeg, but he and his family still struggle to come to terms with her death.
It happened in November 2018, when a night out suddenly turned tragic, changing the lives of so many forever.
Hildebrand remembers his 22-year-old daughter Tia getting ready to head out to the bar with her best friend. She decided to leave her two-year-old little girl Kairi, Roy’s granddaughter, with a babysitter overnight for the first time.
Roy said he asked Tia for the babysitter’s phone number in case of an emergency.
“She said, ‘Oh don’t worry, nothing’s ever going to happen,’” Roy recalled.
Following the tragedy, Roy said he didn’t know where his granddaughter was, or how to get to her and bring her home, for about 12 hours. He was finally able to track down the babysitter using Facebook contacts.
That night, Tia went to the bar where her friend, Shelby Lavigne, said she ran into two guys she knew and the four of them left the bar together.
Lavigne was in the back seat of the car with Tia when the driver, allegedly drunk, slammed into a tree in the 100 block of Cullen Drive in Charleswood.
“I just remember looking at her (Tia) and she looking at me and then that was it,” Lavigne said.
Lavigne survived the crash, but Tia was not so lucky.
“I’m the last person that she talked to,” said Lavigne. “I was the last person that she spent a day with. The whole day actually. We went and got tattoos. It was kind of like a bucket list day and we didn’t know it.”
Tia was rushed to hospital where she was pronounced brain dead by doctors. At the request of her family she was kept on life support for another day.
“It demolishes everything about your life,” Tia’s brother, Peter Pool, said.
“Waking up and getting that phone call and then not even 24 hours later having to feel your baby sister’s heart beat for the last time in your fingertips as you take her off life support.”
Pool is now sharing custody of his sister’s daughter, along with the grandmother.
“I had figured I had no other choice but to do it, so she had somebody to look up to and have a parental role,” he said.
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Roy still can’t return to work. Weeks before the death of his daughter he had moved out of a penthouse and into a larger home to accommodate a nursery for his grandchildren. He has since moved out and is now living with his son.
“There’s no way that you can actually describe the feeling you have, to lose a child,” Roy said.
“Since my daughters passing, I have spiraled into a state of depression and I fight it every morning. Every morning you wake up, she’s my first thought, and every night before I go to bed, she’s my last.”
The crash destroyed more than just his family, added Roy.
“This accident has ruined 35-year friendships, it has driven families apart.”
As for Kairi, she knows her mother is not coming back and remembers her only through pictures and videos.
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On average, 100 people die each year as a result of collisions on Manitoba roads, many of which are preventable. Roy hopes to see that number drop soon.
“I hope that by sharing our story, and Tia’s story, that people will think twice before they act.”
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