Advocates against impaired driving are satisfied with the Riders’ decision not to play Charleston Hughes in Saturday’s game against Calgary.
Hughes is facing an impaired driving charge after Regina police found him unresponsive in his vehicle parked along Ring Road last week.
On Thursday, the Saskatchewan Roughriders announced the defensive end would still be playing this weekend; however, the club reversed that decision in an announcement on Friday.
“The reality is, this is a very serious crime and it should be treated as such. We do hope the team takes it seriously and this is one step to tell the public that they are,” said Michelle Okere, regional manager of the Saskatchewan chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Those feelings were echoed by Lou Van de Vorst, who lost his son, daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren in a drunk driving crash in 2016.
“Impaired driving and the cost to our society is just too high, and we really need to make the point that says ‘This is not going to be tolerated anymore,'” he explained. “If (the Riders) would have let Charleston Hughes play, that says that they’re not taking it as seriously as they should.”
Even though Hughes has publicly apologized for his actions, Bonny Stevenson — who also lost her 17-year-old son, Quinn, in an impaired driving crash in 2013 — said more needs to be done to make it up to his younger, more vulnerable fans.
“I do think that you do have to get into the community, make it public, own what you’ve done wrong and make it right,” she said, suggesting one way to do that is selling 50/50 tickets at a Rider game.
“I just think that he has to take on that role of a leader and step up — that to me is just hugely important. We need people like that to help us get that message through, not to work against us.”