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My sister's death
  1. Marielle Olivier
  1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McGill University, 1020 Pine Ave W, Montreal H3A 1A2, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 Ms Olivier
 (e-mail: marielle{at}epid.lan.mcgill.ca).

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Editors note: Just before Christmas the sister of one of my colleagues was killed by a drunk driver. I asked for the details and what follows is her reply. I realize this is not an issue that directly applies to children and adolescents, but in this instance the other victims were the adolescent children. In any case, adolescents who drive drunk are very much our concern, and the manner in which any intoxicated offender is dealt with in most countries is outrageous. In a later issue we will publish an account of how this problem is handled in various countries.

By way of preview, it is usually appalling. The most promising, albeit partial solution, may rest with insurance companies who adjust premiums for those who install interlock devices. But what about prosecuting those who serve the driver? How effective are more severe penalties? I welcome comments from readers.

It is indeed a difficult experience to go through. My young sister was so full of energy. She was teaching physical education and enjoying life very much. Besides doing many sports, she was also taking painting and drawing lessons, on top of taking care of her family. Her husband is a physician and was very busy at the clinic and the hospital. So she was always there to take the kids to their soccer and hockey games, etc. She leaves behind three teenaged boys and a husband that she still loved after some 20 years of marriage. And they all needed her so much...

What happened is the following: on a Saturday afternoon (December 12th), she was driving back home after having done some Christmas shopping. It was around 17:00 so it was dark but the weather and road conditions were fine. She was on a secondary road with no street lights. She was alone in the car. On the other side came that drunk driver. He moved on her side and hit her directly (in French, “collision frontale”). She seems to have died right away, probably because she had her neck broken. She had no cushion (airbag or coussin gonflable) in her car.

Of course the other driver only had minor injuries. It is always like that... It seemed that he had drunk about 10 beers before driving his car, according to the test that was done on him. And clearly no one stopped him from driving his car after he left his office's Christmas party.

It is terribly unfair. It simply makes no sense that someone can take someone else's life away forever just like that, in a couple of seconds. It is so unfair to those children who have lost their mother much too soon. Life is incredibly fragile!!! I wonder what we can do so that things like that don't happen anymore. Certainly by stopping people that we know are drunk from driving. People were saying that the driver was a good guy who usually didn't drink too much. How many such good guys are there on the road, threatening innocent people's lives? Having more severe laws doesn't seem to be efficient, at least not for everyone. If that guy goes to prison, will it convince other good guys to be serious about not drinking and driving? Maybe....

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