While standing in front of a banner, which displayed dozens of victims of dangerous driving, Families for Justice founder Markita Kaulius pointed to a smiling face and shared part of their story.
She then pointed to another face. Then another, and another…
“Marilyn Laursen was killed May 15, 2011 in White Rock here, she was crossing the street when she was killed. The accused got a sentence of two years and I believe he was out in seven months,” Kaulius said.
“Bryan McCron was killed five days before his wedding by a… driver here in Surrey. The gentleman had two previous driving-impaired charges. He got a sentence of two years and was released after six months.”
Drivers in both crimes pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, with charges of impaired driving stayed in McCron’s death.
Kaulius was outside the White Rock RCMP detachment Thursday to help officers promote their CounterAttack program, part of a provincial initiative launching tomorrow (Saturday) to focus on impaired driving at roadblocks.
RCMP volunteers held the banner while Const. Chantal Sears stopped and checked motorists for signs of impaired driving.
Sears told Peace Arch News that in the past two weeks, White Rock officers have dealt with two cases of suspected impaired driving. In the first, on Nov. 16, an off-duty officer called 911 after observing a driver in the 1500-block of Kerfoot Road at 10 a.m. The officer intervened when the vehicle came to a stop and prevented the driver from leaving
Charges are expected to be laid against a 63-year-old White Rock man in connection with that incident, Sears said.
Police are also investigating a case from this past Monday, when a motorist drove into an unoccupied parked vehicle in the 15600-block of Pacific Avenue just before 8:30 p.m.
Charges are expected to be laid against a 53-year-old White Rock woman in connection with that incident.
Kaulius– whose daughter Kassandra, 22, was killed in 2011 when a driver of a company van ran a red light at 152 Street and 64 Avenue at 103 km/h – is asking the federal government to impose minimum sentences for impaired driving cases that result in death.
Natasha Leigh Warren pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing Kassandra’s death, failing to remain at the scene of a crash and driving with a blood alcohol content over the legal limit causing death. Warren was sentenced to 37 months but served 18 months behind bars.
“Which is a long time for impaired driving. Most people received two to four years are out in about seven to nine months,” Kaulius told PAN, calling some sentences “ridiculous.”
“Somebody has died because of somebody’s choice to drink and drive,” she said. “We’ve seen sentences of one day in jail; $750 fine; $1,500 fine; 90 days to be served on weekends…”
Kaulius – a Surrey resident and administrative assistant with Langley RCMP’s protective services – said she has concerns that now that cannabis is legalized, it’s only going to increase the number of impaired drivers; “great concern.”
“We haven’t got any stats here in Canada cause it’s only been just about six weeks, but we know there will be future impaired driving deaths and drugs will be involved as well as alcohol,” she said.
Kaulius and Sears agree that deaths or injury from drinking and driving are 100 per cent preventable.
“I just really ask people this holiday season to please don’t drink and drive – have a plan in place before they take their first drink. If anybody sees anybody driving impaired, please call and report them, call 911 and report them, because you might be saving their life or somebody else’s loved one,” Kaulius said.