Three years after a tragic drunk driving crash took the life of Danille Kerpan, family returned to the scene to honour her memory.

New road signs were unveiled on Townline Road, one kilometre east of Highway 11, Tuesday afternoon.

Kerpan’s parents, Allan and Melanie, were joined by Saskatchewan government dignitaries and representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

The Kerpan family unveils the signs going up on Highway 11 as reminder to other drivers the price of driving drunk

It was around 10:40 p.m. on Oct. 10, 2014, when 25-year-old Kerpan was killed by a drunk driver hurtling the wrong way down Highway 11 near Bladworth.

The Kenaston woman was heading home from Saskatoon at the time.

Twenty minutes before the fatal crash, police received a number of calls about an erratic driver heading northbound in the southbound lanes.

In January 2016, 50-year-old John Karl Koch, who had been living in Dundurn at the time, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death. Koch’s blood-alcohol level was between .226 and .251, or three times the legal limit.

Koch was sentenced to four years in prison. 

Allan and Melanie Kerpan said before the ceremony it was difficult to continue talking about the tragedy.

“You just kind of wish it was all over,” Melanie said. “But there’s no getting over it, there’s just getting through it each day.”

Melanie broke into tears as she addressed the ceremony, reading a poem Danille wrote in Grade 12 titled I Am.

In the poem, Danille expressed her hopes and fears for the future. It included a hope to “experience life to the fullest,” and a fear she wouldn’t remain “forever young.”

Allan, a former member of parliament, said he used to be prepared to make a speech wherever he went. However, it’s different when it comes to talking about his daughter.

“I’ve had to really sort of mentally disassociate myself in order to talk about it, otherwise I’d be a mess,” he said.

But he said he continues to speak out because the culture in Saskatchewan needs to change.

He applauded changes made since Danille’s death, including harsher rules for drunk drivers and a more prominent presence for MADD Canada.

“Before we lost ‘Nille, MADD Canada would tell you Saskatchewan was a black hole for them,” Allan Kerpan said.

“They had nobody here, nobody on the ground. There was really nothing doing here.”

Josh Kerpan, Danille’s brother, also spoke at the unveiling ceremony.

He said if his family could give everyone a sense of their loss, drunk driving would cease to be a problem.

“If I could bottle it up and give everybody just a little bit to have a sip and make people understand, that alone would eradicate drunk driving,” he said.

In the years since, Kerpan’s father has been outspoken about changing the attitude toward drinking and driving in Saskatchewan.

Kerpan was recently included in an SGI ad campaign showing real-life victims of drunk driving crashes. Her photo was also used in an awareness campaign featured on the backs of RTL Westcan trucks encouraging people to report impaired driving by calling 911.

Source: 650 CKOM


Last updated on: 2017-10-27 | Link to this post