Marriya Jenkins holds photos of her three friends. She is playing on a team called the 182s, named for the favourite band of Brad Arsenault


Parents of killed youths want tougher sentencing for drunk drivers

Armed with a pair of borrowed cleats and sweat pants, Sheri Arsenault headed out onto a soccer field in Beaumont Sunday afternoon for her third game of the day.

It’s a sport the 49-year-old soccer mom is used to watching and never plays. But Sunday was different. Arsenault was playing for her son Bradley, 18, who was killed along with two friends in an alcohol-related car crash last November.

“We’re out there trying to win. Bradley was very intense, he didn’t like losing,” said Arsenault, whose team consisted of about 10 other parents up against her son’s former teammates. Braving rain, wind and sore legs, they managed to tie their first match and be victorious in the second.

“The guys might be going easy on us,” said Arsenault, adding her son would laugh if he knew what she was up to.

The games were part of a long-weekend fundraiser at Gobeil Park to commemorate Bradley and his friends Kole Novak, 18, and Thaddeus Lake, 22, who were rear-ended by a pickup truck on their way home from a bar last year. They were pronounced dead at the scene on the south edge of Beaumont, off Highway 625. The driver of the truck was charged with impaired driving and manslaughter in January.

Zane and Karmia Novak, Kole’s father and sister, put on the event to support the BKT (Bradley, Kole and Thaddeus) Memorial Fund. Each of the three days is a tribute to one of the boys and celebrates their favourite interests like skateboarding, soccer and music. Money raised will go toward building a park in the boys’ honour.

“It’s a tangible for us, something we can reflect on and know that their names won’t be forgotten,” Zane said.

That satisfaction is something that Zane doesn’t believe his family will gain through the justice system. In the past few months, he has been to court several times and said he is frustrated with the slow pace of proceedings. He is happy with Alberta’s recent move toward tougher penalties for drunk drivers, but mainly because it brings awareness to the topic. He said stiffer sentencing for those who have killed someone while driving drunk should be the priority.

“It’s a joke,” Zane said. “Three boys are dead and the perpetrator will receive almost no social consequences for it.”

Zane described a very close relationship with his son, whom he was helping move to Calgary. Accepting that Kole is gone has been next to impossible, said Zane, who now lives in Calgary.

“It’s just indescribable. I never imagined a life without my son because we just did everything together.”

Karmia Novak, 20, echoed those sentiments. She dated Lake for more than two years.

“There wasn’t one minute in one day that I wasn’t talking to them or with one of them,” Karmia said. “They were the biggest part of me.”

She most misses drinking coffee in comfortable silence or watching infomercials together until 5 a.m.

Arsenault has channelled her grief into working closely with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and has started a petition that demands tougher sentencing for convicted drunk drivers.

She hopes to leave behind a powerful legacy for her son.

“I miss my son terribly,” Arsenault said. “Sometimes it’s easier to be angry or focused on something other than sadness.”

She still has a text message from Brad, sent to her at 10:30 p.m., just a few hours before he died early on Nov. 26.

“It says ‘I love you, mom.’ His last words to me.”


Source: The Edmonton Journal


Last updated on: 2012-09-12 | Link to this post