Nolan Barnes was another 18-year-old who thought he was invincible when he and a group of friends decided to risk the drive home to Yorkton after drinking at a party in Saskatoon in May 2010.
The impaired driver behind the wheel lost control on the highway. Barnes was thrown out of the vehicle as it rolled over. One of his best friends was killed and he was left paralyzed from the chest down.
Speaking Monday at Saskatoon City Hall, Barnes said he still remembered having to tell his mom what happened.
“It was a big ‘I’m sorry.’ I lied to her about where I was supposed to be. I was not supposed to be where I was. I just kept breaking the rules. Pushing the envelope. I honestly was kind of selfish.”
Barnes was on hand to add his voice to the city’s annual call for people to plan a safe ride home this holiday season.
The city will once again team up with SGI to provide free transit service on New Year’s Eve. Barnes said he hopes people will use the option if they need to.
Even though he’s confined to a wheelchair, Barnes said he still considers himself lucky to be able to spend Christmas with his family when he reflects on the friend he lost in the crash.
“It’s something no one should have to go through. No family should have to bury their child. That’s not right.”
Barnes said he hopes more people will think about their loved ones before they make the decision to drive drunk, or to get in a vehicle with an impaired driver.
“I remember laying in that hospital room with all my friends and family around. I realized it impacted way more people than just me,” he said.
Staff Sgt. Patrick Barbar with the Saskatoon Police Service said they have seen progress over the years when it comes to drunk driving on New Year’s Eve.
He also urged people to make a plan before they leave their homes to party, and warned that officers would be out in force through the holidays monitoring roads for impaired drivers.