Local advocates who work to educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving are outraged at the full parole granted a convicted drunk driver last week in Red Deer.
Chad Olsen had received a two-year sentence in April of 2011 after he pleaded guilty in November of 2010 to two counts of impaired driving causing death. Brad and Krista Howe were killed on Feb. 7, 2010 at about 2 a.m. after the truck that Olsen was driving slammed into them at the intersection of Ironstone Dr. and 30 Ave.
The Howes left behind five children.
Olsen attended a hearing last week in Red Deer where the Parole Board of Canada granted him full parole. Two conditions were added by the board – that Olsen abstain from alcohol and that he take part in psychological counseling. Last December, he was released from prison and granted day parole after serving less than eight months of his sentence.
Aleta Neville, president of the local chapter of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), said Olsen’s release and time he spent in prison doesn’t reflect the gravity of the crime, the damage to the families and to society as a whole.
“This is another example of the need for tougher sentences that better reflect the gravity of the tragedy.”
Neville said lenient sentences in these types of cases are common.
“The ripple effect and residual damage is ongoing for life,” she said of the impact of losing a loved one.
“The whole dynamic of the family is forever changed. The victims’ families don’t get any parole. MADD Canada strongly supports stiffer sentencing – we need our government and our courts to support the citizens of this country with sentences that more strongly denounce this crime and serve as a more effective deterrent.”
Neville became involved with MADD when an impaired driver killed her 21-year-old son Brent in 2006. She and her husband Rick also established The Nev Foundation, a registered charity, following the loss of their son.
Ultimately, it’s about being responsible – all the more important with a long weekend approaching and people hitting the roads for one last getaway before the colder weather.
“People need to know that they can go out this weekend, they can have fun and they can have a couple of drinks with their friends. They just need to be responsible, know their limits.
“But MADD Canada has always recommended that people separate drinking from driving.”