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Memorial remembers tragedy of teens killed by drunk driver

Impact 6/21: Families, supporters in Hanmer remember 2009 crash that claimed the lives of Steven Philippe, Jazmine Houle and Caitlin Jelley

The years may be passing, but the pain felt by three Sudbury families who are victims of a drunk driver will never go away, people at the Impact 6/21 memorial event heard Sunday evening in Hanmer.

Steven Philippe, Jazmine Houle, and Caitlin Jelley, all 15, were killed in 2009 when a speeding and drunk driver hit them. He kept going and crashed into a house a kilometre away. He was later sentenced to the harshest penalty in Canadian history for impaired driving causing death. 

Lisa Jelley said she and the families have tried to make something good happen from what is every parent's worst nightmare.

"Our decision to take the deaths of our children and use what happened to try and prevent further tragedy as a result of impaired driving has hopefully made a difference in the way some people think," Jelley said. "We still have a lot of work to do. But the support we see here tonight and the support we receive every day from different people is what is encouraging. That's what keeps us going.

"If we can change on person's mind about the decision to drive impaired, then it's worth it."

Jocelyn Philippe said events such as Sunday are painful, but worthwhile for the message they want to deliver.

"Father's Day for us, it's really hard," Philippe said, her voice full of emotion. "It's not easy. We will never be the same. None of us. We'll be living our life, but it will never be the same.

"That's why we're here today, to bring a message that's worth repeating. We don't want any other parents or anyone else to suffer the pain and the horror of burying a loved one as a result of impaired driving."

Corrie Lamoureux reminisced about her daughter, who packed a lot of living into a short life.

"Jazmine lived for 15 years,” Lamoureux said. “She was full of life, she was smart, kind, caring, loving, athletic, adventurous, silly and fun to be around. She lived a very short 15 years, but she lived them to the fullest. And I'll always be so very proud of her."

The mothers are speaking for their children now, she said, because their voices have been taken from them.

"We fight for them because they can no longer fight for themselves,” Lamoureux said. “And we walk together in spirit, because they can no longer physically walk with us."

Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini was at the event, as was Ward 5 Coun. Bob Kirwan, who's from the area. Kirwan said that many people know about Hanmer because of the tragedy that took place in 2009.

"To see so many people coming out to an event like this, on Father's Day, really warms my heart," he said.

Kirwan said it's time for all of us to not only pledge to not drink and drive, but to do what we can to make sure those close to us don't, as well.

"If you're around someone who may be making that mistake of getting behind the wheel, everyone who is around them has to take responsibility and try to stop them."

Gerry Lougheed Jr. urged governments to get even tougher with drunk drivers, and treat them the same as other criminals.

"Some people still don't get it," Lougheed said. "If we send people to jail with stiff sentences for killing people with guns and knives, I suggest to you tonight that you and I should demand that in fact we have stiff sentences for people who take several hundred pound automobiles when they're drunk and kill other people."

After the speeches, the crowd headed to a nearby memorial for the teens, accompanied by members of Greater Sudbury police.




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