Sask. drunk driving victim appearing on 40 'moving billboards'
Two and a half years ago, former Saskatchewan MLA and MP Allan Kerpan received the devastating news that his 25-year-old daughter, Danille Kerpan, had died in a car crash on Highway 11 near Bladworth, Sask.
The crash was caused by a drunk driver.
On Wednesday, Kerpan and his wife, Melanie, helped unveil a new campaign against drunk driving that features his daughter as the face of the powerful message.
RTL-Westcan Group of Companies and MADD Canada have launched the new awareness initiative to get impaired drivers off the road, in hopes of preventing injury and death.
Danille Kerpan's photo and a message telling people to report suspected impaired drivers by calling 911 will be featured on RTL-Westcan's truck trailers, popping up in front of thousands of drivers every day in Saskatchewan.
"It's almost like a moving billboard," Allan Kerpan said. "We have to keep reminding people in this province, it seems, that drunk driving is not acceptable."
Busting drunk drivers using 911
According to Kerpan, a minimum of 16 people called 911 on the night that Danille was killed to report the driver at fault, who police said was going the wrong way on the highway for at least 50 kilometres.
"So terribly, in our case, there were no police officers anywhere near close enough to apprehend the fellow. But the 911 part of it certainly is effective," Kerpan said.
"We know our record in Saskatchewan is not good. I mean, it's the worst in Canada by quite a bit. So, I'm hoping we can chip away at some of those numbers simply by more education."
Kerpan said seeing the campaign brought back the devastation of Danille's death but also made him proud.
"She was a pretty humble young person who just wanted to change the lives of at least one person," he said. "By MADD Canada and Westcan entering this campaign, they've really given her a platform to help way more than one person, in fact, save some lives.
"This comes from a father's perspective, but she's incredibly beautiful and still is to me."
'People are just not getting it'
Kerpan said that putting an end to drinking and driving in Saskatchewan is just a pipe dream but said he hopes to see the number of injuries and deaths due to impaired driving decrease.
MADD Canada president Patricia Hynes-Coates said Saskatchewan isn't alone in this problem.
"People are just not getting it. They're thinking that they're immune," she said. "Well I'm here, living proof, to tell you that it will happen. It will happen and it's time for each one of us to be accountable for what we're doing."
Hynes-Coates lost her stepson in an impaired driving crash in 2013.
By launching the campaign, she said she hopes to see more people reporting drunk drivers on the road and stopping family and friends from getting behind the wheel while impaired.
"Seeing this beautiful girl's face is very impactful. If I was driving down the road and I saw this child, someone's loved one, on a moving billboard, it would make me stop and think," she said. "Not only as a victim, but as a mother. I would stop and think: she didn't deserve to lose her life."
The campaign featuring Danille's photo will appear on the back of 40 trucks in Saskatchewan.