Bradley Arsenault would have celebrated his 21st birthday on Saturday had it not been for a tragic crash involving an allegedly impaired driver nearly three years ago.

At 18 years old, Arsenault — and his two friends Kole Novak, 18, and Thaddeus Lake, 22 — were killed when their car collided with an oncoming truck on Highway 625 just outside of Beaumont in the early morning hours of Nov. 26, 2011.

Johnathan Pratt, the driver of the truck, was charged with three counts of manslaughter and drunk driving causing death for his connection in the crash, but he has yet to enter a plea. His trial is set to begin on April 28, 2014.

On Saturday, the Arsenault family, and 21 of Brad’s friends and neighbours, marked his would-be birthday with a wishing lantern ceremony at the St. Vital church in Beaumont.

Bradley’s now 19-year-old sister, Aimee, came up with the idea for the ceremony and wanted the day to be treated as a celebration of her brother’s life.

“It seems more fitting to remember him in a happy way, especially on his birthday.” said Aimee.

But for Bradley’s mother Sheri Arsenault, the grief of losing her son has yet to subside.

“It’s not a good day for me, it was a good day for me 21 years ago,” said Arsenault. “At the same time it’s uplifting to see his 21 friends and the other people who came out, and it’s uplifting for me to see that he’ll (Bradley) never be forgotten.”

The Arsenault’s celebration comes just one day after an Edmonton man was handed a three-month jail term for his role in killing a 16-year-old in a street racing incident back in April 2010.

Rena Noi Onevathana, 34, was handed a 90-day weekend sentence for his involvement in the fatal collision. But the sentence is no consolation for Jeremie’s sister, Julie LeBlanc.

“This sentencing was simply not enough,” said LeBlanc, in a statement. “The legal process was dragged out and ultimately ended with a weak sentencing. I know nothing will bring my brother back, but this was not enough.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by sister Mona LeBlanc, “I feel as if the justice system has failed.”

For Arsenault, who is an Alberta representative of Families for Justice — a non-profit charity that aims to raise public awareness about the sentencing for those convicted of impaired driving — the LeBlanc sentence is just another slap in the face for a family seeking closure.

A trial for Jayant Soni, who is also charged in connection with the crash, is slated for October 2014.

Source: The Edmonton Sun

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Last updated on: 2014-02-18 | Link to this post