How can people continue to drink and drive after hearing these stories?

You may have seen on Facebook or in the news the deeply tragic story about a fatal crash that killed a Calgary woman Sunday August 12, 2012.

Kelli-Jo Smith, 38, died after the Ford pickup her husband was driving was hit by a Mercedes about 3:15 am Sunday. What makes the already tragic story even more gut wrenching (as if it could be) is that Kelli-Jo and her husband were actually acting as sober, designated drivers for a very responsible wedding crew who called on them for their assistance.

The best man in the wedding, after drowning a few drinks to give him the courage to make his speech, made the smart choice and opted not to drive impaired. He called his uncle (who had always gladly taken calls in the middle of the night to be a DD) and his stepfather to drive a handful of people home who had been drinking.

After driving everyone home and visiting with a few friends, he and his wife (who had just celebrated their second wedding anniversary) were headed home themselves when their Ford F150 was t-boned by a Mercedes-Benz sedan. The truck spun and struck a large power pole and both Kelli-Jo and her husband, Sean, were thrown from the vehicle.

Reports state that when Sean gained consciousness, he heard his wife cry out and crawled 70 meters to hold her in his arms and say good-bye as she passed away.

Is that not the saddest thing you’ve ever heard? And so senseless! I have tears burning in my eyes.

Sean himself suffered multiple injuries including hand, ankle and spine fractures and severe road rash and is still in hospital while the 27-year-old male driver of the Mercedes sustained minor injuries…and was released on bail not 2 days after the crash.

Makes me sick.

The impaired driver faces charges of impaired driving causing death, impaired driving causing bodily harm, and refusing to provide a breath sample.

I’ll be continuing to follow this case.

This comes not ONE WEEK after a 19-year-old impaired driver killed 49-year-old Jayantha Wijeratne and his 16-year-old daughter, Eleesha, in Toronto. Antonette, Jayantha’s wife, was rushed to hospital with life-threatening injuries.

According to one news report, the family was returning from a 5-day vacation in Florida. Eleesha’s 19-old-brother, Brian, who wasn’t with the family when the crash happened, was informed about the death of his father and sister by two police officers. He then had to tell his mother, in critical condition, that her daughter and husband were dead.

Can you imagine? My heart breaks for these families. Such senseless devastation!

You can see an interview between Sun News’ Charles Adler and Brian Wijeratne on what’s happened to his family. Charles asks the question “are our drunk driving laws tough enough?” Brian responded with a sentiment I share. It feels like people don’t view drunk driving causing death as much, certainly not murder. It’s like impaired drivers who kill aren’t considered killers because they were drunk and suddenly that becomes an “excuse” or makes them less accountable for their choices and actions.

I agree with Brian. And I think if you choose to drive drunk, that should be considered intent to kill and it should be treated like premeditated murder. But I realize, I am slightly bias.

I leave you with this…Rethink Impaired Driving!

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What do you think? Is impaired driving causing death murder or do you think that because the driver was under the influence, they weren’t in their “right” frame of mind and therefore it’s good that it’s treated like a lesser offence? What do you think needs to change so that impaired driving stops? Is it laws, policies, education or a combination of all three? Or do you think as long as there is alcohol, there will be drunk drivers?

On August 1, 2009, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

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