Jason Cripps, a gifted hockey player, was 14 when he was killed by an impaired driver in 1988. The annual Jason Cripps Memorial Christmas Tournament begins Saturday (Dec. 27)

The local hockey world was shaken with the tragic death of a young player by an impaired driver in 1988, but Jason Cripps' memory lives on through the annual Christmas hockey tournament that has celebrated his life for 20 years.

"Hockey was our life," said his brother, Mark Cripps. "All of us came up through the Kitchener minor hockey system, but my brother Jason was the only one who had any talent."

In August 1988, the car Jason was in with his brother, Daniel, and father, Larry Cripps, was rear-ended outside their Kitchener home. Jason was the only person injured in the collision when some luggage was thrust forward into the back seat, hitting Jason in the head.

Two days later, the 14-year-old Triple A hockey player died of his injuries.

"Jason was loved by everybody in minor hockey," Mark Cripps said. "He was just a nice kid … He was the guy who won the most sportsmanlike award every year on his team and he was respected for that."

In 1994, the Kitchener Minor Hockey League Christmas Tournament was renamed the Jason Cripps Memorial Christmas Tournament. More than 2,700 minor hockey league players will participate in the four-day tournament that runs this year from Saturday to Tuesday.

Along with hosting 77 girls' teams and 94 boys' teams across all divisions in the Kitchener Minor Hockey League, the Cripps tournament reminds participants and their families of the tragedy in hopes of preventing impaired driving.

"It's great that there's an opportunity to keep Jason's memory alive, and to drive home the message that there are consequences that come with making the really bad decision to drink and drive," Cripps said. "That consequence for us was our 14-year-old brother being put into the ground, in the prime of his life, you know, weeks away from starting his first day at high school."

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Waterloo Region supported the Cripps family after the crash in 1988 and have been involved in the memorial tournament for the last 20 years. Organization president Jolene Knott said the tournament is "an amazingly positive thing to come out of a horrible tragedy."

Knott said events like the Cripps tournament and other advertising brought impaired driving awareness a "long, long way."

"It's not to the point where we would want it to be. But in the past 20 years, just the general mentality of the public in regards to it, it seems the message is getting across much stronger," she said.

The opening ceremonies will take place at the Activa Sportsplex in Kitchener on Saturday at 4 p.m.

"I love that my brother's legacy is able to do something positive, that something that was so tragic and meaningless and senseless has value," Cripps said.

Source: The Record


Last updated on: 2015-01-07 | Link to this post