Drinking and Driving: Changing Lives Forever
As a paramedic in Edmonton, Allison Tatham is faced with life and death situations on a day-to-day basis. But nothing could prepare her for what she faced on June 8, 2014. Her father Garry was killed by an impaired driver in her hometown of Regina, SK.
It was 7 a.m. on a sunny Sunday morning in Regina when a truck slammed into her father’s car stopped at a red light. The driver of the truck, who was severely intoxicated, was going nearly twice the legal speed limit when he plowed into Garry’s car, killing him instantly.
The impact was so hard that the truck was embedded into the car, pushing the back seat into the front seat and broke it. Her dad’s neck was broken instantly. The driver of the truck had been drinking all night. He didn’t even know where he was after the accident – he thought he was in Saskatoon. The driver had four previous impaired driving charges, having spent one year in jail for one of them. Over the last 20 years, he had been charged with 204 previous offences. Losing her father has changed Allison’s life in so many ways. Her father won’t be able to walk her down the aisle when she gets married. He won’t ever meet his future grandchildren. It’s also affected her career as a paramedic.
“Working as a paramedic… I had to take a step back. It’s way too close to home. Dealing with tragedy on a daily basis is hard, but it’s even harder now. Now I have the personal understanding of loss, and having to tell someone that their family member just died, I take it to heart,” said Tatham.
Now, almost two years after her father’s death, Tatham can’t go a day without thinking about her dad. She’s seen the crushing impact it’s had on her family, and when she arrives at work every day, she knows there could be that call where it triggers back memories of her dad’s crash.
“I’ve been to impaired driving crashes since losing my dad and to treat impaired drivers with respect because that’s my job is very difficult. (They) are now my patient, and have done something horrible. They’ve changed my life again, and potentially a victim’s life and their own life. How do you deal with that?… it’s hard, but it’s not impossible,” said Tatham.
“My family’s life has been changed forever. He was the rock of our family. I feel very privileged to have the type of father that I did. He was the most supportive father on earth. There is always going to be a level of sadness and remembrance. I know I won’t forget him, but I have those brief glimpses of what my life used to be like and that makes me sad.”
MADD Edmonton Chapter encourages everyone to plan ahead before doing out. Please do not drive impaired and If you see a suspected impaired driver, please call 911. If you are a victim or survivor of impaired driving, please contact us at 587-772-1616 or email email@example.com