In 2011, a drunk driver in a white van going 103 kilometres an hour ran a red light and smashed into Kassandra Kaulius’ car in Surrey, killing her.
“The stop light for the van had already been red for 12 seconds. The speeding van accelerated the last 500 feet of the intersection, got airborne over railroad tracks and slammed into Kassandra, T-boning her driver’s side door,” said her mother, Markita Kaulius.
After the driver hit Kassandra’s car, she got out of her van, went up to look at Kassandra who was dying and then took off running. Police later found her in the bushes.
Two officers came knocking at Markita’s door saying her daughter had been in a “catastrophic collision” but they didn’t know if Kassandra was alive or not.
When Markita and her husband arrived at the hospital, a doctor told them she had died.
Markita shared the heartbreaking and tragic story of her daughter with a group of teenagers in Chilliwack on Friday as a smashed car could be seen parked behind her outside Sardis Secondary School.
Dec. 9 marked the first day of a six-week impaired driving campaign called the Crash Car Tour put on by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Upper Fraser Valley which runs from Dec. 9 to Jan. 20.
“My family and I live every day with the aftermath of an impaired driver’s decision to drink and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle and drive,” she said. “We live every day knowing our daughter’s death was 100 per cent preventable. Sadly, instead of her fulfilling her dream of becoming a teacher, a wife, a mother she became another statistic of impaired driving.”
Every year, between 1,250 and 1,500 people are killed in Canada by impaired drivers.
Several road-safety partners were at the Sardis Secondary on Dec. 9 getting the message out to young drivers.
“This project today is intended to be highly visual and act as a reminder encouraging everyone to think ahead and plan to have a safe ride home before going out,” said Tanis Hatch, ICBC road safety and community co-ordinator for Chilliwack.
The crashed car will be outside Sardis Secondary until Dec. 16 and will be moved every Friday to a new location where it will stay for one week. The other locations are: 7985 Lickman Rd., Yale Road near the Evans roundabout, Elder Avenue, Vedder Road at Petawawa Road, and the parking lot at Townsend Park.
Also set up at the school on Dec. 9 were several orange cones with wiffle balls on top. Students lined up and put on impaired goggles and then tried to weave in and out of the cones without touching them or knocking the balls off.
Kids stepped on the cones knocking them over, some walked incredibly slowly but still stumbled right into the cones, and balls could be see rolling on the ground.
“That’s a crash,” Hatch said each time one of the teens knocked down a ball.
It happened over and over and over again.
Grade 10 student Avery Langbroek had troubles walking with the goggles on and said it felt like an “out-of-body experience.”
RCMP Insp. Brian Donaldson with B.C. Highway Patrol in the Lower Mainland said it’s not just alcohol that can impair someone’s ability to drive, but also cannabis, mushrooms and other drugs.
The Crash Car Tour was their way of pleading with youth and others to “please plan a safe ride home,” Donaldson said, adding that RCMP and other police forces will be stepping up patrols over the holidays.
Last weekend was the ‘Light up the Highway’ event where 180 police officers were out at road checks that were set up at more than 40 exits along Highway 1 as part of National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day on Dec. 3.
That night, they checked more than 30,000 vehicles and 36 impaired drivers were taken off the roads. In Abbotsford, 23 impaired drivers were caught over that weekend.
“Unfortunately, even with these talks… people are still not getting the message,” Donaldson said.
Everyone who spoke at the Crash Car Tour outlined a number of options for getting home safely. People can choose a designated driver, take public transit, call a friend or family member, use a taxi, call Operation Red Nose at 604-391-1112 or spend the night.
Donaldson said some folks are hesitant to call 911 because they don’t want to bother the police.
“If you’re in doubt, call 911. That small weaving in the lane that you see could be indicative of an impaired driver and you could be saving someone’s life.”