Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ending a Life

"My mother is gone for the rest of her life. She had many, many years left and we have to live our lives without her."
"I don't know how anyone can forgive an accident like that when it is 100 percent preventable.
We didn't have that chance to say goodbye."

"You wouldn't think somebody at 7:30 in the morning would be drunk. There is a community complex just down the road. Kids could have been on the roads with their parents and it just happened to be my mother."
"If you can't afford a taxi, you can't afford to drink."
Tracy Gagne, Ottawa, Ontario

"My sister got a life sentence at the age of 53 and a half years old. She lost her life. A life is something you can never get back."
June Dolson, sister of Tracy Gagne's mother

Wissam Outifrakh felt he could not afford not to drink. Alcohol clearly called out to him, and he chose to respond to its call. The man appears to have succumbed to various addictions; alcohol one, gambling another, a wicked combination. He was, in fact, driving home after a night out at the Lac Leamy Casino. And he was obviously not in complete control of the vehicle he was driving. He was obviously alcohol-impaired.

The 24-year-old drove straight through a stop sign and in the process crashed into the car that 54-year-old Janet Clermont was driving, at 7:40 a.m. on March 10, 2013. According to witnesses who observed the tragedy, he approached the intersection at high speed, making no attempt to steer away from the car he would crash into, or to brake, to attempt a stop before the collision that killed Janet Clermont instantly.

Toxicology experts verified that Mr. Outifrakh's blood-alcohol level read at twice the legal limit, at the time of the crash. Samples taken from the venue of the hospital roughly an hour and a half post-crash, showed a blood-alcohol level of 203 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. Leading to the conclusion that earlier the man's blood-alcohol level was likely 230 mg of alcohol for every 100 mL of blood, whereas the legal allowable limit is 80.

This man had five previous convictions and ten demerit points under the Highway Traffic Act. He had been previously cited for driving 129 km/h in a 80 km/h zone, crossed the centre line, struck another car, and drove while using a hand-held device.  And two additional tickets for speeding. This was his first criminal conviction and it is a dreadful one; under the influence of alcohol he directly caused the death of another human being.

He pleaded guilty to impaired driving causing death. And after he did that, three weeks later, he violated his bail conditions by once again drinking. An electronic monitoring bracelet, monitoring his perspiration for alcohol revealed the consumption of enough alcohol to register a blood-alcohol level of 73 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. Evidently, he had ample support from his family to conduct himself well; was not lacking in emotional back-up, but rather lack of will.

He claims that he will commit to doing what he can to persuade others of the dire consequences of drinking and driving, once he's released from prison, to try to make amends for his error in judgement. For, he said, when he wakes in the morning, his thoughts are flooded with the reality that his carelessness took someone else's life. Janet Clermont's family members are not the least bit impressed with that show of regret.

Her husband spoke of his "immeasurable loss", and his dead wife's 11-year-old grandson "speaks of feeling really sad, realizing he will not see his grandmother again, that she will not be there for his soccer games, birthdays or other occasions", in the words of the presiding judge. "He speaks of how sad his brothers are; how sad everyone is", said Ontario Court Justice Ann Alder.

And then she sentenced him to four years and nine months in prison. With credit for time served, he will have 3-1/2 years of that sentence left to serve. And he will be eligible, under Canada's Criminal Code for parole, after serving a third of that sentence. The family of Janet Clermont, loving wife and mother, fond and doting grandmother, will never forgive having been deprived of her prolonged presence in their lives.

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