Mary Rodrigues holds her baby Alex, shortly before the crash that took the infant's life

Alex isn't coming home.

Mary Rodrigues says it has been the hardest thing to explain to her boys, Ethan and Max, six years after their baby brother was killed by an drunk driver. Alex was four-months old the day everything changed.

At 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Oct. 13, 2008, Rodrigues was travelling with her family to their home in Woodstock, Ont., when they were broad-sided by an impaired driver. The woman, 44 at the time, drove through a red-light and slammed into their vehicle.

"My husband said, 'Watch out,'" she recalled. "All I saw was the headlights."

The impact of the collision knocked Rodrigues unconscious. When she woke, her husband was working to free Max and Ethan, who were three and four at the time of the crash. She found out later that she and Alex, both sitting closest to the point of impact, had been trapped in the vehicle.

Firefighters freed Alex, rushing him away in the first ambulance. She followed close behind, and they were transferred to hospital in nearby London, Ont.

Over the course of the next few hours, doctors treated Rodrigues for two fractured vertebrae. When she saw her husband she asked about Alex. He told her he was going to be fine.

"Just the way he said it, I knew something wasn't right," she said.

Finally, she saw her baby at 2 a.m.

"I looked at Alex," she said. "He was four months and 26 days old ...He had a breathing tube in. He looked like, and felt like, a China doll. He was so cold when I kissed him. He had IVs in each arm. He had IVs in each leg."

Family from as far away as Toronto and Sarnia rushed to the hospital. A police officer pulled the couple aside, telling them they'd found the woman who hit them, that she was impaired, and had been charged.

Meanwhile, staff at the hospital were fighting to save Alex's life, calling in a neurosurgeon to evaluate him after an emergency MRI. But a short time later, the family was assembled in a private room by doctors.

"The doctor said to us there's nothing more we can do for him," she said. "His brain stem is completely severed. The priest baptised him because we still hadn't had him baptised and then read him his last rites. At 6 a.m. he was pronounced dead."

After that we had to go home and tell our other two sons ... that their baby brother wasn't coming home."

The drunk driver would be convicted of a number of offences including impaired driving causing death. She was sentenced to seven years in prison after a lengthy trial. She served 2 1/2 years and is now on day parole, Rodrigues said.

But the pain of that day never goes away.

"It's been a long six and, almost, and a half years since he passed away," she said.

And while the boys for the most part live normal lives, they haven't forgotten their baby brother or that night.

Max, especially, struggles with anger and guilt. Occasionally, he still asks when he'll see Alex again.

Rodrigues now works with MADD Canada, speaking at schools about her experience and her family's continued struggles.

Source: Toronto Sun


Last updated on: 2015-02-12 | Link to this post