MADD advocate

Eva Gainer lost her husband and youngest son to a drunk driver 14 years ago. She is now the director of victim support for the Central Okanagan Chapter of MADD, which kicked off its 2014 Project Red Ribbon Campaign Saturday.


In an instant, Eva Gainer’s life was changed forever. She lost her husband and youngest son to a drunk driver in a collision that put her in hospital with traumatic injuries.

It was a day like any other for the Ontario family until a man decided to get behind the wheel after he had been drinking and plowed into the family. He lost his own life in the crash. Police found an open case of beer in his vehicle.

The scars have healed, but for Gainer the loss and the painful memories remain. Since that fateful day in 2000, she has become a tireless advocate for Mothers Again Drunk Driving, which kicked off its 2014 Project Red Ribbon Campaign in the Central Okanagan with a news conference Saturday at the Kelowna Fire Department station on Enterprise Way.

“It’s fitting that we are doing this in a fire hall,” said Gainer, “because it was firefighters who had to cut me out of the car with the Jaws of Life.”

Gainer, now the director of victim support for MADD Central Okanagan, remembers little of that night, but she does remember being told weeks later her husband and son were gone forever.

Gainer relives those horrific moments every time she tells her story, but she continues to do so in the hope it will prevent similar tragedies.

She hopes to make people aware of the possible consequences of their actions and to remind people impaired driving accidents are 100 per cent preventable: simply don’t drink and drive.

Gainer said several of the first responders to the accident that killed her husband, son and the drinking driver needed counselling to deal with what they saw that night.

Deputy Chief Lou Wilde of the Kelowna Fire Department said first responders are often witness to such tragedies and the “aftermath of a poor decision on somebody’s part.” Wilde said first responders are impacted by what they see and carry those memories long after the victims have been taken away and the debris cleaned up.

The selfish act of a drunk driver affects far more than just the people involved in the accident. It also affects family, friends, co-workers, first responders and even passersby who see the mangled wreckage and tarp-covered bodies.

Over the past few years, impaired driving laws have been toughened in the province. Also, road signs have been put up locally that encourage people to report a suspected drunk driver. Both are having an impact.

Speaking on behalf of the city, acting mayor Luke Stack said that in 2010 in B.C., there were 126 fatal accidents involving a drunk driver, but that in 2011 that number dropped to 73, and in 2012 it was down to 55.

“It is encouraging, but it is still 55 lives and that is 55 too many,” said Stack.

Gord Stewart, RCMP regional operations officer, said police support the signs, adding impaired drivers are the No. 1 criminal cause of death in Canada.

“It’s easily the most preventable act we deal with on a regular basis,” he said.

The Red Ribbon Campaign was launched to coincide with the Christmas holiday season, when more people tend to consume alcohol and then drive.

Stewart said police will be “ramping up enforcement across the board” and will have roaming road checks throughout Kelowna.

Source: The Daily Courier


Last updated on: 2014-11-17 | Link to this post