Sep 21, 2014 - FFJ Empty Shoe Campaign [Calgary AB] ~ Part 2 ~ MY STORY

My name is Sheri Arsenault. I am Alberta’s representative for FFJ. The reason for my involvement with is because my 18 year old son Bradley Arsenault and his two very good friends Kole Novak and Thaddeus Lake were killed by an impaired driver, John Pratt.

On November 26th, 2011 my life changed forever. I received that knock on the door! It’s truly the worst of the worst and I relive it everyday.  All my hopes and dreams, my son’s hopes and dreams, my life as I knew was shattered, in .04 of a second. 

John Pratt is solely responsible for the taking of three innocent lives. This was his choice, his decision, to drink excessively, to get behind the wheel, and to drive down a public road at an extreme speed. John Pratt was finally convicted of this crime, just 3 weeks ago. It took almost 3 years for our courts to bring this to a conclusion. 

I wish to bring awareness to the public about the number of innocent lives lost in Canada each and every day due to the decisions of others

It’s a choice!

First I must say I am speaking from the perspective of a layperson and a mother and a victim. I am speaking based on my own personal experience with the criminal justice system. 

In my close involvement with impaired driving offences, convictions, sentences and trials of other families in both Alberta and BC. I have learned that through our current criminal code a maximum sentence of life in prison is legislated. But, our Justice System consistently hands out sentences ranging from house arrest to averages of 2-3 years.  

What the public doesn’t always know is only 1/3 of any given sentence is actually served. Period!!  Our Parole Board now takes over once these drunk drivers are convicted. As our courts rely heavily on precedent and case law, our system is stalled by this. The judges constantly and consistently hand out meager sentences. These sentences are handed out over and over, every day in every city and every town in this country.  The value of our very own loved ones, sadly we found out is very minimal. There is more value and deterrents placed on property crimes than loss of life.

This is 2014.  We all know the horrors of this crime. The impaired drivers are left to carry on their lives while the grieving families are left to navigate through life with excruciating heartache.

This crime affects every single one of us.  We came out today to not only offer support but to educate on how severe this crime is and nothing has changed in over 30 years. 

Every day you see or read this on the news. 1 dead, 2 dead, alcohol involved.  It is obvious that the punishment for this crime is not enough.  

This crime affects 4-6 new families each and every single day. 

Right now, as I am speaking to you somewhere in our country at least 4 more moms are in shock and disbelief. A lifetime of permanent heartache. I think about this everyday. Their child, their loved one is gone at the hands of a drunk driver. Senseless, preventable! And you see, drunk drivers kill randomly, every single one of us is at risk at any given time. We do not know who will be the next innocent victim of a drunk driver.

It was when I was able to come out of the dark place of grief that I was able to start understanding this crime and the process involved in our court system. I was like everyone else.  I never thought it would happen to me or my family.  My son Brad sure didn’t think it would happen to him.  He would never drink and drive. And it’s just possible that the drunk drivers think the same thing…it won’t happen to me! I always get home!

Well it happens, close to 200 hundred times a day a drunk causes a collision.  People die, people are seriously hurt. 

It is due time that this number one, leading cause of criminal death in Canada is looked at, as extremely serious and there needs to be a deterrent.  Mandatory minimums need to be put in place and as each day passes there are four more deaths. 

To date in just over 2 years a few mother’s and father’s, grieving broken hearted families, signature by signature, one by one they tell their story.  They have gathered over 70,000 signatures, petitioning our federal government for a 5 year mandatory minimum.

I can tell you, it is very hard to find anyone in this country who agrees with our current sentencing. It is time for everyone to stand up and demand mandatory minimums be put in place for this crime.  It’s senseless, 100 % preventable and leaves a lifetime of sorrow and sadness for those left behind.

The stats say that one in three of us know someone who has been affected or knows a drunk driver. 

One in three!  That is high.


PART 3

RELATED STORIES:

Part 1 ~ INTRODUCTION

Part 3 ~ GUEST SPEAKERS

Part 4 ~ MORE GUEST SPEAKERS

Part 5 ~ CLOSING REMARKS

Part 6 ~ ADDITIONAL PHOTOS

Remembering Someone Special by Markita Kaulius

Impaired driving awareness campaign lays out 1,460 pairs of empty shoes

Remembering those lost to drunk driving

Hundreds of “Empty shoes” a reminder of those killed by drunk drivers

Families of victims of drunk driving rally in Calgary using empty shoes to call for change

Group wants stricter laws vs drunk driving in Canada

 

 

Last updated on: 2014-10-09 | Link to this post