Candlelit vigil remembers Edmonton and area impaired driving crash victims

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WATCH: A candlelit vigil was held by MADD Edmonton and area to remember impaired driving crash victims. Sarah Komadina has more.

Pictures of smiling faces sat in the front of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Edmonton on Sunday, as candles were lit and poems read to honour victims of impaired driving crashes.

This marks the 25th year that Mothers Against Drunk Driving has held a vigil like this during the holiday season.

“They know that they are going to see people that they know. They are able to be a part of a service that is honouring and [remembering] their loved ones. That’s very important,” said Gillian Phillips, MADD victim services manager for Western Canada.

READ MORE: MADD Canada’s first-ever Alberta roadside memorial pays tribute to Calgary man

There have been 2,039 impaired driving charges this year in Edmonton, according to police. It’s a decrease of nine per cent since 2017.

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MADD Canada stats show that on average, there are four people killed every day across the country because of impaired driving.

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“We wish that we didn’t have to be here [at the vigil]. We wish this wasn’t a problem. We have new families that are coming to this Sunday because they lost somebody in the space from last year,” Phillips said.

Some families have attended vigils before. For others, like Lori Kryger, it’s their first time.

“This is a way for me to remember my husband and brother-in-law before we get into this whole Christmas season. When you come here, everyone gets it,” Kryger said.

In July 2018, her husband, daughter and brother-in-law were driving to Vancouver. A driver going the other direction crashed into them. Her daughter was injured, and the two men were killed, she explained.

Kryger joined the board for the Edmonton-area MADD branch.

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“There is no reason why people should be driving impaired, whether it’s drugs or alcohol. I can now explain how an action like that impacts the lives of survivors,” Kryger said.