Couple who lost 4 family members to impaired driver raise awareness in new SGI campaign

·3 min read
Couple who lost 4 family members to impaired driver raise awareness in new SGI campaign

SGI has released a new impaired driving awareness campaign, including ads and posters which call on people to ask themselves: 'If you killed somebody as a result of impaired driving, could you live with yourself?'

Linda and Lou Van de Vorst are an integral part of the new campaign. They lost their son and his young family because of an impaired driver.

In early 2016, Jordan Van de Vorst and his wife Chanda died on scene while their kids Kamryn and Miguire died in hospital after Catherine McKay, who had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit, failed to stop at a stop sign and crashed into their vehicle just north of Saskatoon.

Over the years, Lou and Linda Van de Vorst have put themselves in the public eye to raise awareness around impaired driving and the tragedy it can cause.

In this SGI campaign, the focus is on the people that could be affected by an impaired driver this not only includes the victims and their friends and families, but impaired driver's families, friends and colleagues.

WATCH | New SGI impaired driving ad campign asks: 'Could you live with yourself?':

In the video, a man in a bar imagines how the decision he was about to make to drive impaired could impact everyone around him in an instant.

"Believe me, I'm sure it affects the family of that person who killed our son and his family. And I'm sure that they have to live with that. And I think that's what this this ad campaign highlights. It's not just our loss but it's also it affects his family and himself," said Lou Van de Vorst.

Both Lou and Linda Van de Vorst say life has been difficult for everyone in their family since the deaths of Jordan, Chanda, Kamryn and Miguire.

"You are only guaranteed this moment in life. There is no repeat button," said Linda Van de Vorst.

"An irresponsible decision to drive impaired has potential to leave a never-ending path of pain and suffering in the lives of families or individuals killed or injured because of a selfish decision. Always make the right choice to never drive impaired and always plan ahead."


An ongoing effort

Don Morgan — the minister responsible for all major Crown corporations, including SGI — says ongoing awareness efforts by families like the Van de Vorsts are one of the reasons Saskatchewan has seen significant progress in reducing impaired driving offences in recent years.

"In the face of that unimaginable tragedy, Linda and Lou find the strength to speak out about their loss in hopes of preventing others from driving impaired," said Morgan.

Michael Bell/Canadian Press
Michael Bell/Canadian Press

In 2016, there were 51 impaired driving-related deaths in Saskatchewan. In 2019, there were 21, according to the SGI.

"Still, impaired driving remains a serious concern on Saskatchewan roads. We must not get complacent. We need to continue our work to get impaired drivers off the road," Morgan said.

The new SGI impaired driving awareness campaign will run all through February.

"It's our hope it leads people to think about the other consequences of impaired driving. Yes, there are stiff penalties, such as huge fines, jail times and license suspensions," said Morgan.

"But it's also about the feelings that person would experience if their bad decision killed someone else. The guilt, the shame, a lifetime of regret. We don't want anyone to find out what that feels like. And we don't want anyone to lose their life because of something as preventable as impaired driving."