Looking down at a portrait of her late daughter and son-in-law in a newly-published calendar, Sandra Green can’t help but shed tears of sadness.
Krista and Brad Howe were killed in a motor vehicle collision last February, leaving behind five children. Chad Olsen, 22, recently pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death.
The Sedalia man will be sentenced in Red Deer next April.
These days, Green continues her fight to bolster awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. She launched a petition this past spring to urge the federal government to toughen up laws in relation to impaired driving.
She’s also included a portrait of Krista and Brad in the ‘Remembering Victims of Impaired Driving Crashes’ fundraising calendar. Spearheaded by the Red Deer-based NEV Foundation, some of the proceeds this year will go to the Howe family as well as supporting a number of charitable organizations including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Brad and Krista are featured for the month of February – significant in that Krista’s birthday was on Feb. 18 and of course the couple lost their lives on Feb. 7.
“In some ways, it feels like it was eons ago and in some ways it feels like it was last week,” explains Green during a recent interview. Besides the photo of the couple, there is a description of them and their family which really adds a poignant, personal touch.
“It’s kind of like honouring them. Others will read it and see the tragedy of what can happen and possibly it will strike a chord. I showed my grandson the calendar, and I said that all these people represented were killed in an alcohol-related condition. He looked at it, read it, and said ‘Grandma, they’re all so young’.
“It’s just so needless. It just doesn’t have to happen. And that’s my whole stance with the petition.”
To date, Green has gathered about 2,000 signatures. “It’s been very well received. I’m aiming for a million signatures, so I have a ways to go,” she adds with a smile. “But I have a while to do this.”
Ultimately, Green said a cultural and society shift must take place when it comes to prevailing attitudes about drinking and driving. She is confident that day will come.
“I think what we really need to work towards in Canada is zero tolerance. I really think that’s what we need to do. I also think that when people drink and drive, even if they know they shouldn’t be drinking and driving, they don’t think they’re going to kill someone or hurt themselves. They just think if they get identified as an impaired driver, they will lose their license,” she said.
“The thing is that there is no penalty; there is no consequence. If you kill someone, go to jail and get out on bail and then expect to get a three or four-year sentence and expect to serve one-third of that, what does that say?”
Green’s mission with her petition is to stiffen penalties, particularly when impaired drivers are first caught. She’d like to see 30-day jail terms handed down right off the bat with a zero-tolerance policy followed for second offences – a mandatory loss of a driver’s license for life.
“If you are identified as an impaired driver, you need to know that there is going to be a risk involved. That if you decide to go drink and then get behind the wheel of a car, a policeman could identify you as an impaired driver and your next stop is jail for 30 days.”
As to the man who has been charged with her son-in-law and daughter’s death, Green says a sense of sadness is her most pervasive emotion. She doesn’t give into hateful feelings. “I can’t allow myself that animosity and anger. It would be easy to fall into that. It would be easy to harbour that, but I can’t allow it.
“I would like to see stiffer penalties especially if you kill someone. But I’d also like to see stiffer penalties before you kill someone,” she adds. “I’d like to see stiffer penalties at the beginning, when you are first identified (as an impaired driver).
“I’m not saying people should never drink or that we should ban alcohol. I’m just saying people need to be responsible. Drinking and driving simply do not mix – ever.”
Lives impacted of course will never be the same.
“Brad and Krista should be here,” she says. “They should be going to the Festival of Trees to watch their daughter sing this morning.”
For more information and details about Green’s petition, visit www.itsnotanaccidentitsmurder.info. To purchase a ‘Remembering Victims of Impaired Driving Crashes’ calendar, visit www.nevfoundation.com.