Barrie resident Cherie Daniels was seriously injured after she was hit by a drunk driver December 2011.

In a matter of seconds, an impaired driver changed Cherie Daniels’s life forever.

Daniels, a 35-year-old mom of two children, was struck head-on on by a drunk driver around 7 p.m. Dec. 18, 2011, while driving along Huronia Road in Barrie.

“We were approaching the train tracks and to me it looked like he was going to put his car in the ditch, but then he over-corrected, and he came straight into my lane, he hit me head-on,” she recalled.

The first thing she remembers after the crash is being overcome with pain.

“It felt like I woke up and I was in a lot of pain, I couldn't breathe,” she said.

As she came to she found her vehicle had been torn apart.

“The dashboard and everything else was in my lap,” she said. “The windshield was smashed and all the airbags had gone off too.”

At the emergency room, doctors determined she had a broken sternum.

A few days later, after she started experiencing headaches and nausea, tests revealed she had also suffered a mild brain injury.

While she has done a lot of healing over the past four years, her life will never be the same.

Daniels still requires regular physiotherapy and psychological treatment, and will continue to need help for the foreseeable future.

“The joints in my neck, they still lock up when I rotate them, and my left shoulder has issues too because it was damaged by the seatbelt,” she said.

She also has a severe phobia of driving and only drives when it’s not busy or when she absolutely has to.

A few months before the crash, Daniels had started her own cleaning business, but her injuries have prevented her from returning to work.

“I basically lost everything in one night,” she said. “So for two years, I was extremely angry. I couldn't think about anything, my career, or what I was going to do. Now I’m very limited to what I can do, which is very frustrating, because I’m only 35 years old.”

The situation has affected everyone in her family, and has put a strain on her marriage.

“My husband had to take last year off because of stress, because we need two incomes to survive,” she said.

The driver who injured Daniels also survived the crash. In addition to serving six months in jail, he was issued a five-year driving probation and a fine.

When the matter went before the courts, she found the driver had received an impaired driving charge two weeks before her crash.

Daniels was “outraged.”

“I think we need stricter laws, because people take the laws as a joke, and I think the laws would have more impact if they were tougher,” she said.

With impaired driving continuing to be a significant issue, she questions why the federal government wants to potentially complicate the problem by legalizing marijuana.

“I think any impaired driving is bad and the government needs to do more research before they start selling it to people,” she said, adding the government needs to determine how it will deal with impaired driving due to marijuana use, “because if they don't, there are just going to be more and more crashes. People will abuse it because it’s legal.”

In addition to lobbying for tougher laws, Daniels uses her experience to help others.

She is a member of the board of directors with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) chapter for Barrie/Simcoe and manages the group’s website and social media activities.

Her role with the organization has helped her transition from a victim to a survivor.

“I’ve found it to be very beneficial,” she said. “You get to go to conferences and meet people who are in similar circumstances, and you get to talk to them and know you’re not alone.”

She is also committed to supporting her family again and is optimistic she will be able to return to the workforce soon.

“I try to remain positive,” she said. “There are some days where I get discouraged and depressed, but I don't let myself get too caught up.

Source: The Mississauga News

Last updated on: 2016-08-06 | Link to this post