Ray and Bev Hostyn, lost their granddaughter Kirsta Sandy to a drunk driver in 2008. Angela Waskayich and Kathy Mitchell joined them to dedicate a bench outside the Centennial Aquatic Centre last year.


Christmas is a difficult time for Barrie’s Christie Ward as there will always be one empty seat at the table.

The mother of four lost her oldest daughter Kirsta Sandy in 2008 to a drunk driving accident. Sandy was only 18.

“She was my first, so those images come back in my mind all the time,” she said. “All my firsts as a parent, were with her. (Christmas is) exciting for the other kids but very hard, because her seat is always empty.”

Sandy got into a truck with a friend, without knowing the driver was drunk

“They went for a drive and he lost control of the vehicle and it flipped and she was thrown out of a vehicle and she bled to death in a corn field,” recalled Ward.

“You don’t plan on burying a child,” she said. “I wasn’t able to work for two years, my grief was so overwhelming. I know it was seven years ago, but it feels like yesterday.”

She has three surviving children who were close to their sister, who, according to Ward, was nurturing with her brothers and sister.

Collingwood OPP detachment commander John Trude has seen too many of these incidents during his 40 years in policing.

“Everybody I know, when you went to high school, remembers that horrific accident where one, two or three, young people were killed,” he said. “It’s terrible when anybody dies anytime in an accident, but generally they are preventable.”

Trude’s detachment is currently in the midst of its festive RIDE program, aiming to ensure people aren’t drinking and driving and getting those who are off the road.

“It’s not intended to be the sole enforcement measure, but it heightens the public awareness of not only the people who may drive impaired but of the other drivers on the road who say try as we might, ‘we’re not going to stop,’” he said.

According to MADD Canada, about four people a day are killed in Canada as a result of drunk driving, with 174 being injured.

Ward said with all of the options available, there is no reason to drink and drive.

“There is no reason to drink and drive but they can plan ahead, people usually know they can be drinking,” he said.  “The cost of that, $20-$30, can never outweigh drinking and driving and killing somebody and killing themselves.”

Trude agrees, and is frustrated by those who continue to drive impaired.

“You get the feelings of frustration and anger, and helplessness,” he said. “You’re doing everything you can and everything makes so much good sense. There are so many other options, why do people continue to drive? The impact of somebody dying at Christmas time, not just on that family, but the friends of that family, it doesn’t stop at Boxing Bay.”

Trude said while the police work to catch drunk drivers it’s not going to stop. He encouraged other drivers to stay alert and report those who they suspect might be drinking.

“We’re not going to stop trying but we’re not going to stop that small percentage of the population that insists on doing this, so you take extra care as well,” he said. “There has instances where people have been convicted, 15 or 16 times, they’ve been suspended for life and they still drive.

Source: Simcoe News

Last updated on: 2016-01-06 | Link to this post