Tears were shed by many attendees Tuesday afternoon as highway memorials to the Van de Vorst family were unveiled at the edge of Highway 11.
Large white boards listing the names of the family — Jordan, Chanda and their children Kamryn and Miguire — were placed facing both north and south near the intersection of Wanuskewin Road, as a reminder to drivers to think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking.
“Society loses an awful lot because people are intent on driving after they’ve had too much to drink,” said Lou Van de Vorst, Jordan’s father.
“Hopefully what we are doing here today is just one more tool that we can remind people to behave responsibly.”
The initiative was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada, and supported by the province and City of Saskatoon.
The Van de Vorst family was killed on Jan. 3, 2016 after Catherine McKay hit their vehicle at the intersection while travelling at 106 kilometres per hour. After the crash, blood tests showed she was driving with a blood-alcohol level of between 0.237 and 0.257.
Linda Van de Vorst, Jordan’s mother, said she constantly thinks of what could’ve been.
“I have always wondered why someone was not bold enough to take her keys from her and help her find another ride home,” she said.
After the ceremony, Linda told reporters how much she missed seeing the smiles and feeling the hugs of her family.
“I miss Kamryn’s squeal of excitement coming to grandma and grandpa’s, and Miguire’s hands up saying ‘up grandma,'” she said.
‘In my mind it’s almost like a homicide’
Representatives from the city, province and emergency services also attended the ceremony, once again offering their condolences and emphasizing the need for Saskatchewan to eliminate drunk driving.
Saskatoon police Chief Clive Weighill mentioned the recent implementation of stronger laws as good deterrents, but said citizens still need to change their thinking.
“Sanctions don’t mean a damn, do they, if somebody’s been injured or murdered,” he said.
“In my mind, it’s almost like a homicide. You’re driving the vehicle … It’s a choice, not an accident.”
Weighill also mentioned recent statistics from SGI showing high numbers of impaired driving charges, saying police are doing a better job of apprehending drunk drivers thanks to tools given to them by the provincial insurer.
“I’m not going to say there’s more drunk drivers around,” he said.