Jillian Lavalee's sister Caitlin Lavallee, left, Brenda Lavallee and Dan Lavallee.

Victim impact statement of daughter's friend compelled mother to help organization

The new voices of the Mother's Against Drunk Driving Calgary campaign know all too well the devastating impacts of drinking and driving.

Brenda and Dan Lavallee's daughter was in a taxi when it was struck by a drunk driver — killing her and the driver Amritpal Kharbanda in May 2015.

Ali Montoya pleaded guilty earlier this year to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. He will be sentenced on Nov. 25.

The Lavallees told the Calgary Eyeopener they've become an active part of MADD's 29th annual ribbon campaign because they don't want other families to have to go through what they've been through. 

The victim impact statements from her daughter's friend about the fear and anxiety since the crash compelled Brenda Lavallee to act.

"That was really a turning point for me where I was like, I have to make a difference."

Taking up advocacy has also helped her cope.

"It's getting easier to verbalize it. For the longest time I really couldn't even speak about it. It's getting a little bit easier now." 

Both Amritpal Kharbanda, 46, and Jillian Lavallee, 25, were killed when an alleged drunk driver crashed into the taxi the two were in on May 2, 2015. 

Dan Lavallee believes the reason 1,200 Canadians lives are lost each year in drinking and driving incidents is because people are increasingly tolerant and slow to act.

The couple supports MADD's goals to push legislators to change rules so that tragedies don't end up happening in the first place.

"You've got to make a leap."

The Lavallees say their bond with the Kharbanda family has given them strength throughout the arduous court proceedings, and are relieved that Montoya's guilty plea spared them from the ordeal of a lengthy trial.

But it was that day in a Calgary courtroom last month that led them to where they are today.

"It was just an instant click. I have to get involved. I can't not get involved," said Brenda Lavallee.

Source: CBC News


Last updated on: 2016-12-19 | Link to this post