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.
Sgt. André Pepin – New Brunswick
Sgt. André Pepin holding a whiteboard: “As a mom, she knew something was wrong.”
“As a mom, she knew something was wrong”
As a qualified breathalyzer technician for 23 years, I have had many encounters with individuals who were impaired. It’s common to hear them tell me, “I’ve only had a couple of drinks officer,” as I prepare to take a breath sample in order to determine their level of impairment. The breath test often indicated they should not have been driving; that they should have made a better choice or someone they knew didn’t stop them from getting behind the wheel.
I’ll never forget the night that I wished I had heard those words from one young man. It would have meant I stopped him from driving and that he was no longer behind the wheel of his car. Why? Because I ended up meeting him by way of a 9-1-1 call. I was dispatched to a single vehicle crash on a rural two lane secondary road. It was a warm summer’s night and the road conditions were dry. The call came in the middle of the night; he was probably the only car on the road. This man, in his 20s, was driving home from his birthday party. He lost control of his car, it went off the road and it crashed into a culvert and died.
I wish I knew what he was thinking and why he wanted to drive. I hope he wasn’t thinking “I’ve only had a couple of drinks.” This individual lived at home with his parents; it was my job to give them the bad news. I’ll never forget the look on the mother’s face or when she asked “What happened?” as we stood at the front door of their home. As a mom, she knew something was wrong. She knew he was out celebrating his birthday and when she woke up that morning he wasn’t home. Instead, I arrived at the door.
(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