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.
Cst. Donnie Robertson – New Brunswick
“In policing we are trained to expect the unexpected, to always be alert and to always be aware of our surroundings. The importance of this training hit home in an unexpected way in the early years of my first RCMP posting.
It was a November night and considering the time of year it was a nice evening. No snow had fallen yet and I was dispatched to a single vehicle crash. When I arrived, I found a smashed up car on its wheels. Hanging out the rear passenger window was a young man. He was alive when first responders arrived but unfortunately they were unable to save him.
As a police officer, it was my role to investigate the cause of the crash. While assessing the situation with another officer, we heard a long drawn out moan. It sounded like it was coming from the woods next to the road. We all pointed our flashlights towards the trees.
As I walked a few feet into the woods, I saw a young man on his hands and knees who was obviously seriously injured. I called out for help saying I found someone and as I said that, I stumbled, much to my surprise, over another body on the ground. It was another young man but he didn’t move. He was not breathing; he had already passed away. As I got up, the beam of my flashlight shines on another person, just a few feet away from me. This young man had also died as the result of his injuries. The reality of this crash immediately sinks in; four people were in the car but only one survived. The survivor remained in a coma for several days, but had no memory of the crash.
The collision reconstructionist determined that the car missed a turn, went off the road and struck a culvert. The vehicle flew about 200 feet (60 metres) through the air. None of the four occupants wore seatbelts and three of them were thrown about 100 feet (30 metres) from the vehicle into the nearby woods where only one survived. The investigation later determined that all four men had blood alcohol content levels above the legal limit.
This crash caused great heartache to the small rural communities where these men, all in their 20s, lived and further caused the friends and families of the victims to ask many questions about how something like this could happen.
In my 15 years as an RCMP officer I have responded to many impaired driving incidents. Each one is terrible in its own way but what each one has in common is that none of them had to happen. It all comes down to choices and choosing not to drink and drive.”
(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