An unhappy anniversary

Donna Kennie (Mamma K) on her 60th birthday just four short months before her death.

Two years ago yesterday, my mother-in-law was gunned down on a gorgeous sunny day. I say gunned down because even though it was a car accident, it feels like she was brutally murdered by a gun-wielding psychopath. Instead, it was a seemingly harmless driver who had one too many drinks and smoked some weed. Someone who likely thought he was “fine” to drive but clearly wasn’t when he cut sharply into the other lane and took out my beautiful Mamma K.

A witness driving behind Mamma K testified in court that when the 1-ton truck rammed into Mamma K’s 2-door sunfire nearly head on, the force of the collision propelled the truck literally 10 feet in the air as it flipped over and landed on its hood sliding into the gravel. The impact tore the driver side of the car off where it was found imbedded in the truck’s front grill.

My Mamma K was nearly ripped in two and died almost instantly. She lived long enough to turn to her right and see that her 16-year-old grandson was alive as she took her final breath. He watched her mutilated body fade away to the afterlife before his very eyes.  My step-son has lived with recurring nightmares and sleepless nights ever since.

This wasn’t a Saturday night at 2 am. This occurred on a holiday Monday. It was a gorgeous sunny day at 2:30 in the afternoon. Drunk drivers don’t discriminate against time of day. They don’t care where they are, if the road conditions are ideal, or if anyone will get hurt. Nothing matters to them because you see…they tell themselves they are ok to drive….they think their harmless…

I think they are gun wielding psychopaths!

My husband Scott looks over his mother's car and the spot where she died wondering if she suffered...asking himself; "why?????"

After her death, Trent Mallet, the driver of the truck, did her family the honor (being sarcastic here) of pleading not-guilty to impaired driving causing death. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the Canadian justice system and Trent’s right to plead not guilty to try to get away with it. But that choice meant my family was drug through 18 months and over a dozen court dates before finally seeing this guy found guilty and sentenced for his crime.

The entire court process was like having a Band-Aid slowly torn off with salt pouring directly on an open, festering wound over and over again. No one in the family was able to get closure, heal, or move forward having the hurt and anger stirred up every few months for nearly two years. And then there was the added emotional roller coaster of not knowing from court date to court date what was going to happen next; were we going to win, was he going to get off on a technicality? I can’t even begin to put into words the emotional torture this was to my family; the not knowing if he’d ever be held accountable for his choices and actions…for her murder.

The devastation that impaired driving inflicts on families is undeniable and unspeakable.

Why ever take the chance? Why drive even after a drink or two; even if you feel fine? Why take the risk? What if you inadvertently murder some innocent person(s)…just to save a few bucks on a cab? It’s not worth it!

It doesn’t make sense.  

How has your life been impacted by impaired driving?

To read our story:



  1. That’s an awful story, Natalie. I’m sorry the anniversary dredges up those memories. I hope writing about it at least offers you a type of therapy. My grandfather was an alcoholic. I never met him because he died in a car accident when my mom was 16. She has never touched alcohol a day in her life because of that, and neither have I.

    • Thank you so much Angela. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us have been touched by alcoholism and/or impaired driving. Sad stories. It sounds like both you and your Mom have grown from the experience to be better people and to live full lives. Writing about my experience and advocating for people to not drink and drive has been a huge help in dealing with my grief. It’s a wonderful, healthy and productive outlet. Thanks again for the comment!

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