‘They loved their mother so much’: Alberta sees a rise in fatal collisions involving drugs, alcohol

MADD Canada launched its national Project Red Ribbon campaign Monday in Red Deer as Alberta RCMP statistics show there has been an increase in the number of fatal collisions involving drugs and alcohol abuse this year.

Chloe Kaniusis’ sons were only one and a half years and four years old when their lives changed forever.

“That’s the hardest part of it for me, are the boys,” said Kaniusis’ mother Brenda Brown.

“That’s what makes me cry at night because they loved their mother so much.”

Brown was driving home with Kaniusis, a schoolteacher from Rocky Mountain House, in November 2014 near Eckville, west of Red Deer, when they were hit by a disabled driver.

“Chole died instantly. I was squeezed inside for three and a half hours with Chloe before they got me out. It was awful,” Brown said.

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The driver of the other vehicle also died.

Now, Brown is speaking as MADD Red Deer vice president.

First Aiders joined the Brown family on Monday when MADD Canada launched the Project Red Ribbon campaign to promote sober driving during the holiday season.

“It can be completely prevented. I’ve talked to about 3,000 high school students since Chole died. I get them right in the car with me because that’s what’s going to happen. They need to see and hear about the horror of it,” he said. Brown.

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In December 2020, new legislation went into effect in Alberta, meaning that most first-time disabled drivers can now receive up to $ 2,000 in fines and a 30-day seizure of vehicles.

Police say being able to issue tickets on the spot and seize vehicles has freed up legal time and police resources.

“It has certainly helped keep our officers on the road so that more officers on the road increase their ability to detect more impaired drivers,” said Sgt. Michael Zufferli with Red Deer RCMP Traffic Services.

The RCMP said from January to the end of September 2021 that there were 54 fatal collisions on Alberta highways involving drugs or alcohol.

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There were 34 for the whole of 2020.

According to MADD Canada’s new statistical report, in 2019 there was an increase in the number of alcohol-related charges and short-term suspensions, which had been declining for several years.

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