Nearly a year after the tragic deaths of Thaddeus Lake, Brad Arsenault and Kole Novak, the hurt, pain and frustrations remain fresh for family members.

“It’s been by far the worst year of our lives for myself and Karmia. It’s really difficult to put into words. A lot of sadness, that’s the biggest thing,” lamented Zane Novak, father of Kole on the last year of his life.

Monday, Nov. 26 marks one year since 18-year-olds and Beaumont residents Brad Arsenault and Kole Novak and 22-year-old Leduc County resident Thaddeus Lake were killed in an alleged drunk driving accident on Highway 625 on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011 in the early morning hours.

Johnathan Pratt is the man charged in connection with the deaths. He currently faces three counts of impaired operation causing death, three counts of driving while over the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.08 mg causing death and three counts of manslaughter. He was released on bail last February and is awaiting his preliminary inquiry, which will happen Jan. 21-24, 2013.

Frustration is one word to describe how the last year has gone for the families.

“What couples the sadness is the frustration at how little our judicial system takes this seriously. You continue to read the newspapers and watch the news every day and you see more evidence of drunk drivers,” said Novak.

“It’s so sad to see these boys lose their lives and to add insult to injury, no one takes it seriously in our judicial system. That’s been really tough to take.”

The days haven’t gotten easier and the toughest ones might lay ahead.“I really don’t think I hold a lot of hope for healing for a couple of reasons. The victim impact statements for one, because every morning I wake up and think I’m going to have to put pen to paper to try and express how this has impacted me.

“That is something you know you’re going to have to face and that could be years away,” explained Novak.“I don’t think a person will even start to think of healing until the judicial process is over.”

Anthony Lake, Thaddeus’ father echoed Zane’s feelings. “It’s almost getting harder. It’s more real, so that makes it real tough.”

The court process has also been a huge disappointment for Lake as every time something comes up, old wounds are ripped open.

“You get to a point of considering to move on and heal, but then another event comes up. It’s a terribly, terribly drawn out process.”

The Thaddeus Lake Music Foundation for Disadvantaged Children has been their saving grace, said Lake. Thaddeus started the foundation before he tragically passed away. The goal of the foundation is to remove economic barriers that may prevent children residing in Leduc and area from participating in music.

“It’s the only thing that makes sense of out this whole thing. It’s a real privilege to see the support offered out by the community.”

One day, Lake hopes he can reflect on his son’s memory without the feeling of sorrow and angst.
“We’ll always miss him, there’s no question about that, but I look forward to the day when I can reflect on his memory with joy and without sorry.”

Sheri Arsenault is continuing to fight for harsher minimum sentences when it comes to drinking and driving charges.
“The government claimed they got tougher on drinking and driving crimes, so they brought in harsher maximums and brought in minimums for impaired drivers if you’re caught in a checkstop. But they don’t have harsh minimums for those who cause fatalities,” explained Arsenault.

To try and change this, Arsenault has been advocating the need for change in the judicial system over the past year. Along with other families who lost loved ones because of drunk driving, they have spoken with MLA’s and MP’s to try and schedule meetings with those in government who have the power to make a change in the system.

Currently, Arsenault is working on trying to get meetings with the Alberta Justice Minister and the Canadian Justice Minister.

If harsher minimum sentences are brought in against those who drink and drive and cause fatalities, Arsenault believes it will deter the portion of the population who take the risk of drinking and drinking on more than one occasion.

“We really believe it will deter that certain segment of the population that thinks they’ve done it so many times, it’ll never happen to them or they’re not worried because it’s two to three years of court and then a light jail sentence.”

Only time will tell whether there will be changes to this portion of the judicial system, but the old saying, ‘time heals all wounds’ doesn’t have much ground to stand on for Arsenault or Novak.

“I don’t think a year is going to change me. Everyday feels the same to me,” said Arsenault, who helped create a Facebook page in memory of her son,

“We miss him terribly. He was just a fun 18-year-old with his whole future ahead of him and we’re going to fight for his justice.”

For Novak, who created the BKT fund to raise money towards erecting a memorial of some type within Beaumont, he and others involved continue to work towards that goal.

“It’s been a lot of work. It’s definitely been a struggle, but we’ve received commitments from major contractors to help work on whatever project we can with the town,” explained Novak.

The three men will never be replaced, but their memories will always live on and that’s what the families want to continue.

“Kole will always be so irreplaceable. Even at 18, so many people respected him and it was his goal to walk into a room, to have everyone smiling and laughing, even if it meant being at his own expense. He was noted for being able to bring a lot of happiness to anyone he hung around with,” reminisced Novak.

Although the feelings of hurt, anger and frustration are always there, Arsenault’s work with Families For Justice keeps her busy and motivated to erect change in memory of her son and others lost to drunk driving accidents.

“We’re all on the same page and we don’t want any other families to go through this. It gives me something to focus on and it helps somewhat because it’s through Bradley and all the other young people lost,” lamented Arsenault. “We’re their voice.”

The memories of the three boys will live on forever through their parents, friends and the work the families are continuing to do.

To help preserve their memory, remember others lost to drunk driving and help inspire change to the judicial system, the website was created.

Source: The Beaumont News


Last updated on: 2012-11-23 | Link to this post