Standing in the snow outside Saskatoon Provincial Court, former Saskatchewan politician Allan Kerpan reflected on the guilty plea in connection to the crash that killed his daughter.
“It was slightly less dramatic than I thought it might be. It’s another step that we have to go through and I think we’re going to get through this. We’re going to try to make some small bit of good out of something that’s really, really bad,” Kerpan said.
On Thursday, John Karl Koch, 50, pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death. He was driving the wrong way down Highway 11 near Bladworth when he hit and killed 25-year-old Danille Kerpan on the Thanksgiving long weekend in 2014.
Before the plea was entered, her father sighed as other drunk drivers made brief appearances in the docket courtroom. Outside, Kerpan said he hopes whatever sentence Koch receives will at least “raise the bar” for drunk driving cases.
“Even if it’s just a small bit, because then the next case that comes through you’ll see the bar starting to raise, so it’ll be taken seriously by the system and by society in general.”
Kerpan said he has reached out to the family of Chanda, Jordan, Kamryn and Miguire Van de Vorst, who were killed by a suspected drunk driver north of Saskatoon on Sunday. The crash happened on the same highway as Danille’s fatal collision.
“It sort of renews the grief, the sorrow that we have had over our case, it brings it all back,” Kerpan said. “We’re overwhelmed with sadness again and also frustration because it just keeps happening.”
The father from Kenaston reiterated his belief that some Saskatchewan drivers still view “booze cruising” as socially acceptable, especially in rural areas of the province.
He told reporters that he supports the idea of implementing random roadside breath testing in an attempt to curb that mentality. In some jurisdictions where it is done, Kerpan said drunk driving numbers have dropped 25 per cent.
Kerpan thanked the media for covering the case, explaining how important it is to keep the issue of drunk driving in the public eye.
“And until our justice system and our society in general decide to take a stand on this, we’re going to be back here many, many more times.”
Koch’s case has been adjourned to Jan. 18 to set a date for sentencing.