One year later: A somber note to the holidays for the Van de Vorst family
Impaired driving the traffic safety focus for January
Jan. 3, 2017
Typically, the holidays are a time for family and celebrating. For Louis Van de Vorst of Saskatoon, this holiday season hasn’t been anything like the rest as it marks an anniversary he’d sooner forget.
“You know in the back of your mind that it’s the holidays, but things just aren’t the same,” said Van de Vorst. “Instead of having four grandchildren, now we only have two. We used to have 14 of us around the family table; now we’ve pretty well lost a third of that.”
In the early hours of the morning on Jan. 3, 2016, Van de Vorst’s son, Jordan was driving his family home after a night of visiting with friends. His vehicle was hit by an impaired driver, killing him and his wife, Chanda. Their two young children, Kamryn and Miguire died later in hospital.
In January 2016, an impaired driver took the lives of Jordan and Chanda Van de Vorst and their 2 children, Kamryn and Miguire.
Van de Vorst recalls the morning vividly. While police officers were at his home delivering the news, they received an urgent call from a neurosurgeon.
“He said that we didn’t have a whole lot of time. Jordan and Chanda were already gone. We soon found out that Miguire didn’t have much time and that Kamryn was on life support and likely wouldn’t survive either.”
As tragic as Louis Van de Vorst’s story is, it’s not uncommon. Impaired driving is a senseless theme that plays out all too often on Saskatchewan’s roads. In 2015, 54 people were killed and 580 others were injured in impaired driving crashes.
That’s why SGI and law enforcement are once again turning their attention to the issue of impaired driving in January. Throughout the month, police across the province will be watching for drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs and will be enforcing new, tougher impaired driving laws.
A year has come and gone, but for the Van de Vorst family, the missed anniversaries, birthdays and other special occasions haven’t gotten any easier.
“You realize that they’re no longer with us and that the times that we had with them were very precious,” said Van de Vorst. “What we miss most is the laughter, the fun and the good times that we had together with them.”
New impaired driving legislation effective Jan. 1, 2017 make Saskatchewan's impaired driving laws among the toughest in the country. Changes build on laws implemented in 2014 to strengthen impaired driving legislation in Saskatchewan with the aim of stopping tragedies like the Van de Vorsts'.
While laws are an added deterrent, preventing impaired driving starts with making the commitment to make smart, safe and sober decisions before getting behind the wheel:
- Make the commitment to never drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, not only as a New Year’s resolution, but all year long.
- Familiarize yourself with impaired driving laws and how they’ve changed.
- Even if you’ve had a drink or two, don’t drive. Small amounts of alcohol still impact driving ability and can come with serious consequences.
- Have a plan ahead of time and stick to it, including a safe ride to and from your destination, and anywhere in between.
- Know the effects of alcohol/drugs on your body. Even after a good night’s rest, you can still be legally impaired the next day.
- Avoid mixing alcohol and drugs (legal or illegal). The combination can have a multiplying effect on impairment.
“People need to consider what their actions are doing to other people, whether complete strangers or their family and the people that you love. Think about that safe ride home before you go because you’re not immune to it. It can happen to you in an instant, at any time, any place.”