Nov 26, 2012 - VIGIL FOR CRASH VICTIMS

In November 2011, Brad Arsenault, 18, was killed along with friends Kole Novak, 18, and Thaddeus Lake, 22, when the car they were travelling in was hit by an alleged drunk driver near Beaumont, just south of Edmonton.

The year since has not been easy for Brad’s family.

“It’s been very, very tough,” said his mother, Sheri Arsenault, as the first anniversary of the tragic accident approached. I’ve lost my one, my only son.”

Sheri’s father, George Marrinier, said the support of the community has helped get them through the dark days, but the court system has not offered them much solace.

“The justice system frustrated us a lot,” said Marrinier.

In February, Johnathan Pratt, the man charged in connection with the deaths, was released on bail. A preliminary inquiry into the incident is expected to begin in January 2013 with Pratt facing charges of 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.

Arsenault said the lenient sentences she has seen others get for similar crimes is not inspiring confidence in her.

“In this country, the penalty and the crime is very out of balance,” she said.

As a result, a group of community members have been pushing for more strict sentencing for people found guilty of drunk driving.

“We totally believe that that will deter a certain segment of the population that continues to drink and drive,” said Arsenault.

She said the new penalties brought into effect in the summer that focused on lowering the legal blood alcohol limit for Alberta drivers is a start, but isn’t enough.

“That’s one side of the coin,” she said. “Let’s stop people before they kill. But what I’m looking to do is for the people that cause the fatalities, for that to be a stiffer jail sentence. To us, it’s murder. It’s vehicular homicide, and it’s a choice that they make.”

She said there are enough alternatives for people to choose against drunk driving and the feedback she’s getting from the people her son’s age is positive.

“Young people, they seem to get it,” said Arsenault, who also has an 18-year-old daughter.

She said the numbers of drunk driving have stayed consistently high over the past 30 years and a change has to take place.

Along with petitioning government for new laws, the family has held fundraisers for memorials and to raise money and awareness for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

In an effort to get that message out, and to keep the memory of the young victims alive, a candlelit vigil was held Sunday in Beaumont. An ongoing message has also been created online at www.bradkolethad.com.

Source: The Edmonton Sun


 

Last updated on: 2012-11-26 | Link to this post