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. These officers hope that by sharing their stories a life or lives can be saved.
Cpl. Janet Leblanc – Nova Scotia
Cpl. Janet Leblanc sitting in RCMP cruiser, holding whiteboard: “One lived and one did not”
“One lived and one did not”
I was working in Lunenburg County when the RCMP received a call that a parked ambulance had been struck by a vehicle. While EHS staff tended to a patient inside a local residence, a neighbour of the patient ended up driving into the ambulance.
While the scenario with the ambulance was unfolding, the RCMP were also called to a single-vehicle motor vehicle crash involving a lone male driver. Unfortunately, the occupant of the vehicle did not survive and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.
While it is not unusual for the RCMP to receive multiple calls at the same time, I will never forget the unfortunate and sad interconnectedness of these two cases.
Through the course of our investigation regarding the driver who struck the parked ambulance, it was discovered that he was impaired at the time of the collision. This man also stated that he had been drinking all evening with a friend at a local establishment.
In a sad twist of fate, our investigation revealed that the man who died in the crash was actually the friend and drinking partner of the man who struck the parked ambulance. When I had to tell the man that his friend had died, he almost fell to the floor in grief.
At the end of the day, two friends went drinking at a bar and then decided to drive while impaired. Both males drove off separately, and both were in collisions within minutes of each other. One lived and one did not.
I will always remember the pain on this man’s face when I had to tell him about his friend, and I would love to know if this tragic event has prevented him from drinking and driving again. Because if this sad event couldn’t stop someone from drinking and driving, what could?
Cpl. Janet LeBlanc has been a member of the RCMP for 18 years, and has carried out police work in three different Nova Scotia districts since 1997.
(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