Jun 21, 2015 - SUDBURY POV: REMEMBERING JUNE 21, 2009

If she had lived, Caitlin Jelley would be 20 today. Her friends Jazmine Houle and Steven Philippe would be 21 and 22, respectively. It's hard to know for sure what they would be doing now, but it's safe to assume they would be in college or university, getting close to graduating and beginning lives full of hope and promise.

No one will ever know because six years ago Sunday - Father's Day - they died in a tragic and meaningless accident. A drunk driver Nicholas Piovesan, then 26, struck the teens as they walked along the side of Municipal Road 80 in Hanmer on June 21, 2009. He had been drinking in a nearby bar..

Piovesan is a free man today, after pleading guilty to three counts of causing death by criminal negligence. He received a seven-year sentence, at the time the longest sentence of its kind in Canada.

The tragedy shook Sudbury in a way few others have. It rallied many in the community to combat impaired driving. The Impact 6/21 committee was formed, led by the parents of the dead children. Greater Sudbury Police stepped up enforcement of drunk driving, including naming those charged with the crime.

Despite all this, drinking and driving remains a problem in this city. Last August, another young man, Dean (DJ) Hancock was killed by drunk driver Walter Carter, 39, of Lively. Carter was three times over the legal limit and was not supposed to be driving - he had been charged with the same crime earlier in the year. He received five years for killing Hancock.

Just in the past week, Greater Sudbury Police released the names of nine people allegedly impaired by drugs or alcohol. Several were involved in accidents; one injured a pedestrian. Passersby found yet another passed out at the wheel. The list is typical of those released by Sudbury police every few weeks.

It leaves people wondering what can be done to reduce drunk driving. Tougher punishment is one way and this week, the Conservative government tabled a bill that would double the maximum penalties for impaired driving from five to 10 years behind bars, while the maximum penalty for impaired driving causing bodily harm would be increased from 10 to 14 years in prison.

Deterrence is important, but governments must do more. In Sudbury, as in other jurisdictions, it is not unusual to see people convicted a second, third, fourth and even a fifth time of drinking and driving, or to see drivers who have lost their licence because they have been charged with drunk driving to be caught doing it again. The Walter Carter case is a tragic example of this.

Stiff penalties, alone, won't stop an alcoholic determined to get behind the wheel. Continued education is important, as is studying why people continue to engage in such risky behaviour. If Canada can do that, it would be a worthwhile legacy for Caitlin, Jazmine and Steven.

Source: Sudbury Star


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Last updated on: 2016-12-28 | Link to this post