There are many reasons not to drink and drive. Impaired driving is the number one criminal cause of death in Canada. RCMP officers are often the first on the scene at motor vehicle crashes and see how tragic the decision to drink and driving really is. They also see the hurt families experience when they’ve learned that a loved one has died.
RCMP officers from Atlantic Canada recall the crashes that have had an impact on them and also on the people and communities involved. These stories are personal accounts of what happened. The memories of these fatal crashes stay with the police officers, it’s the reality of what happens when a person drinks and drives.
Driving drunk is a choice. RCMP officers hope that by sharing their stories a life or lives can be saved.
Cst. Douglas Baker – Prince Edward Island
Cst. Douglas Baker holding a whiteboard: “Her first words… ‘There’s a dead body’,”
“Her first words… ‘There’s a dead body”
It was a regular start to a weekend summer shift, no different than any other. Performing traffic stops in the early evening hours and enjoying the sunshine, not knowing the horrific ending the shift would have.
I performed a traffic stop on a vehicle with a male driver, female passenger and another young male in the back seat. After checking all of the vehicle papers, ensuring no one was drinking and all were buckled up, I was happy to send them on their way as they told me they were headed to a party.
As I sat in my car waiting for them to depart, the young female passenger got out of the car and cheerfully skipped back to my vehicle and, through my passenger window said, “Could you give us a boost, the car is dead?” Without hesitation I pulled around, boosted their car and sent them on their way.
At about 2:30 a.m., I was on my way to drop off an auxiliary member who had joined me for the shift. We laughed and joked as we drove along, as we usually did. Little did we know the night was about to get gruesome.
As we made our way down the unlit rural road, I observed a car sitting at an intersection about to merge onto the road. As we approached, the car didn’t move so I became suspicious and slowed down. As I got closer, I could see a lone female standing on the road. She looked in shock. Her first words… “There’s a dead body.”
I got out of my vehicle to see a mangled wreck of a car down in a deep ditch. There was a body of a young girl lying on an embankment….obviously dead. The driver of the vehicle had made it out of the wreck and went to the only nearby house, that of the witness I had met on the road.
It was the same vehicle I had pulled over earlier.
The driver of the vehicle swore it was only him and his girlfriend in the vehicle…over and over…despite my knowing another male was with them earlier. A search of the immediate area turned up nothing.
Not until daybreak did we find the body of the other male, some 100 yards from the scene. He had been catapulted from the wreck like a marble in a slingshot.
Two young adults were dead. As it turns out, the driver was later found to be intoxicated and high and had passed out behind the wheel. The one good decision he made was to put on his seatbelt which saved his life.
In the morning we went to deliver the terrible news to the families. I spoke with the brother of the deceased female and the mother of the deceased male; they all lived in the same house. They had traveled to the province to work for the summer before returning home. They were completely devastated. It was an unimaginable image.
Two lives were lost that night, many changed forever, mine included. The images of that innocent 20 year-old woman skipping back to my car and wondering what had happened in between – and if there was anything different I could have done haunt me to this very day.
(the reproduction is a copy of an official work that is published by the Government of Canada and that the reproduction has not been produced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of the Government of Canada.)
© Samina Iqbal. 2015