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MADD regroups with new local chapter after several years' hiatus

by David Meyer

WELLINGTON COUNTY - When Erin Foley and Craig Pitman get married this August, they plan to dance at their wedding.
Most couples do, but they are lucky to be alive, and that is why Foley is so pleased that Mothers ­Against Drunk Driv­ing is back in Wellington County. She attended the first meeting on Jan. 10 and plans to volunteer with the local chapter once it is officially up and running, if she can handle the work load.
Recovery from such an accident has taken a while.
She spent nearly a week in intensive care in Hamilton after developing a pulmonary embo­lism during her first surgery, almost not surviving. In that crash, she broke her left femur, pelvis, wrist, forearm, and clavicle.
Pitman severely broke both his legs - and only began walking again in December - with the aid of crutches. He also broke most of his facial bones. He was airlifted to Hamilton, but bad weather forced emergency crews to take her to Guelph, where she was transferred by land ambulance to Hamilton. The couple have both suffered multiple orthope­dic surgeries since the crash.
They also lost their dog in the incident.
The collision occurred when a 2004 Toyota Tundra pick-up travelling southbound on Jones Baseline pulled out to pass another vehicle on the crest of a hill and collided head-on with a 2005 Ford Focus that was travelling northbound.
The driver of the Toyota a 40-year-old Guelph man was not injured. He faces a charge of driving with over 80 mgs of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system. Foley said the man has until the end of the month to offer a plea to the courts and the case could take up to a year to be heard.
Foley also said the crash and resulting injuries “affects everything.
“Your life is like a snow globe. Somebody has dumped you upside down and shaken it up.”
She said she still considers herself “lucky - very lucky.”
She intends to volunteer with the MADD chapter, but is concerned she might not have the strength.
She noted that she and Pitman had to move back home with their parents. She said she was fortunate she has an under­standing employer in Eagle's Flight, Creative Training Ex­cellence Inc. Pitman was work­ing in his family’s car dealership but he was planning to start his own business when the crash happened. Those plans are still on hold for now.
She added, “We had planned for a long engagement, so we were lucky.”
While organizers at that first meeting have agreed to restart the MADD chapter, it will take some paperwork at the national organization until it becomes official.
The original county chapter folded nearly a dozen years ago, but a group of 20 met in Guelph on Jan. 10 to help renew the group.
Foley said MADD provides help for victims of drunk driving, and the nearest chapter is in Waterloo Region, which was inconvenient for the convalescing couple.
She said it will provide outreach and school programs, as well as the MADD Red Ribbon campaign..
The original Wellington County chapter was one of the first in Canada, and that happened because of the deaths of four area youths in what became known as the hay­ride crash. Four students on a hayride were killed.
Police officials from Guelph and the the Wellington OPP were encouraging at the organizational meeting. The next meeting is set for the Rockwood OPP headquarters on Feb. 5.
OPP Constable Mark Cloes, a media relations officer, said Monday he is glad to see the group re-start.
“We’re certainly pleased to have them back in the county,” said Cloes, who, along with Constable Keith Robb, pre­pares a litany of drunken driv­ers for area media every week.
“We’re going to be working with them to reduce drunk driving,” Cloes promised.
Robb, too, can’t wait for MADD to reform. He sat on the previous MADD board.
“It’s an important program,” he said. “They do a lot of work to heighten awareness about impaired driving. I’ll certainly go out and rejoin.”
More dedicated
Despite seeing huge num­bers of people drinking and driving caught, and despite in­creased penalties that have seen the cost of conviction rise to over $18,000 for a single offence, police continue to catch more and more drinking drivers.
The county OPP actually stopped fewer vehicles during its recent annual Festive Re­duce Impaired Driving Every­where campaign, but it charged more drinking drivers than the previous year.
Cloes said there are more officers dedicating time to removing drunks for county roads, and they are using dif­ferent methods.
“We’re working more dili­gently; we have more offi­cers taking more time - an our or so - out of their day,” adding that police are determined to stamp out drinking drivers.
Those officers are on the move more than ever, too. Cloes said.
For example, they might set up a RIDE Spotcheck on a busy road such as St. Andrew Street, in Fergus, but after 45 minutes they will switch to St. Patrick Street, a less travelled road that drinking drivers are likely to take if they hear about the first spot check.
“We may have been tar­geting the more visible areas” Cloes said, adding that those tactics have now changed.

Vol 41 Issue 03

 
 

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