Kelly-Anne McGillis nearly died at the hands of impaired driver Ryan Jordan Gibson on a Cochrane-area road in December 2012, swerving out of the path of his oncoming truck at the last second. Cochrane teen Brandon Thomas, who was travelling directly behind McGillis, was struck head-on by the wayward vehicle and died on scene.

On Saturday, Kelly-Anne McGillis will stare at thousands of collected shoes piled on top of each other and think of how easily there could have been a pair in there for her.

The now-24-year-old Calgary student was driving to her boyfriend’s along Highway 22 in the early evening hours of Dec. 6, 2012 when the vehicle in front of her swerved into the ditch.

In the next second she saw why.

“I saw headlights coming right at me,” she told Metro Thursday, recounting the incident publicly for the first time. “I swerved and then I just flipped and then I smashed into the guy in front of me because he’d gone into the ditch.”

The oncoming truck, with impaired driver Ryan Jordan Gibson behind the wheel, did tear the side of McGillis’s Santa Fe and then plowed head-on into a vehicle being driven by Cochrane teen Brandon Thomas, who’d been travelling just seconds behind. Thomas died on scene.

McGillis walked away from the crash, but her car was totalled. She suffered whiplash and continues to undergo physiotherapy.

She plans to attend an event called the Empty Shoe Campaign at Cochrane’s Mitford Ponds this Saturday. Kim Thomas, Brandon’s mother, believes she will have gathered more than 2,500 pairs of donated shoes, each a reminder of a life lost at the hands of a drunk driver.

But McGillis has no problems recounting the horror of that night.

“I think about it all of the time — every day – especially when I get into a car,” she said. “A split-second difference and it would have been me. I would have been crushed between both the vehicles . . . somebody was watching over me that night without a doubt.”

McGillis tends to steer clear of the stretch of road where the crash occurred. When she does drive it, she often spots Kim at a roadside memorial erected in Brandon’s memory.

Reached over the phone while at that very memorial Thursday, Kim said it was a miracle that only one life was lost.

“This road at that time of night is full of vehicles . . . so many people could have died that night,” she said.

She added, “This is a Canada-wide serious problem, and we need to hold accountable those that still choose to drink and drive.”

The Empty Shoe Campaign event gets underway at Mitford Ponds at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Source: Metro News

Last updated on: 2014-09-18 | Link to this post