Karla Green with the Howe children in Mexico last December. The children spent their first Christmas at home since their parents

Karla Green with the Howe children in Mexico last December. The children spent their first Christmas at home since their parents

Howe children celebrate Christmas at home

The five Howe children are learning what Christmas is like at home again.

The five Howe children are learning what Christmas is like at home again.

With the help of their aunt Karla Green and their grandparents, the children stayed at home for their first Christmas after losing their parents in a car crash nearly two years ago.

A towering Christmas tree, now barren of any presents underneath, appears in the front living room window. A couple of smiling Santa decorations adorn a nearby dresser. Molly, eight, plays with her favourite present, a telescope given to her by her aunt, while a beagle named Zeke snores loudly on his bed.

The household appears peaceful as most of the children are playing elsewhere in the house. Maggie, six, Ashley, 11, and Cory, 12, are hanging out upstairs while 16-year-old MacKenzie works at a restaurant on Boxing Day.

This Christmas is a lot different from a year ago when Karla took the children down to Mexico where her parents, Sandra and Ed Green, like to snowbird. The family just had to get away from the pain of losing their loved ones 10 months earlier.

Brad, 34, and Krista Howe, 35, were driving home early on Feb. 7, 2010, when a drunk driver, Chad Mitchell Olsen, then 22, of Sedalia, plowed into their car. Fire-medics declared the couple dead at the scene.

Karla said this Christmas comes with mixed emotions.

“The kids were really excited about having a Christmas at home and having a tree and presents because we didn’t do that last year,” said Karla, who celebrates her 36th birthday today. “We thought it would be a really relaxing Christmas but then there was a lot of turmoil.”

The Greens were shocked to learn that Olsen, now 24, was receiving day parole after only being sentenced seven months earlier. He had earlier pleaded guilty to two counts of impaired driving causing death.

The news on Dec. 16 changed their focus of having a peaceful Christmas to one of disappointment, shock and anger.

Karla Green began looking after the children shortly after the death of their parents.

The registered nurse from Vancouver has become used to living in Red Deer, plus the hustle and bustle of carting children here and there to school and after-school activities. There’s still discussions amongst the children as to whether they want to call Karla “auntie” or “mom.”

“I’m getting to know the kids’ teachers better, their friends and families better,” said Karla, who has since dyed her brunette hair back to its natural blonde colour. “Things are normalizing.”

Karla still receives some help from caring individuals, but the need isn’t so great. One neighbour picks up the bedding every couple of weeks and then drops it off all fresh and clean. Others shovel the walks.

Karla designed a Christmas card as a thank-you to many who have helped the family over the past year. The black-and-white photo on the outside shows the family while down in Mexico in December 2010. On the inside, Karla shares some insight on how to live, including: Do not wait for hallmark days to tell the ones you love exactly how you feel, act with courage and kindness.

On Dec. 20, they were profiled again by Los Angeles Times sports writer Chris Erskine, who was receiving questions from readers on how the Howes were doing. He first wrote of the family when they went to the Vancouver Olympics in March 2010. Krista and Brad had already planned the trip and with the help of other company sponsors, the family enjoyed more activities there. The first article Erskine did in 2010 spawned around 300 heartfelt letters from Californians.

“People just gave us personal stories that they felt were spiritually uplifting or they wanted to send their blessings — or how our story affected their lives.”

Karla said in the new year, she’s hoping to return to work as a nurse.

She anticipates the family will honour the second anniversary of Krista’s and Brad’s death in some special way. Last year, the children released balloons into the sky, which Karla felt was really therapeutic for them.

“We usually talk about Brad and Krista every day — there’s memories and questions,” said Karla. “It hasn’t gotten any less.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Rebels forward Ethan Rowland battles with Medicine Hat Tigers forward Brett Kemp during WHL action at the Centrium Saturday night. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers claw back, hand Rebels 11th straight loss

Tigers 5 Rebels 2 The same old issues continue to plague the… Continue reading

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
AstraZeneca vaccine is ready to be used at a homeless shelter in Romford, east London, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Frank Augstein
AstraZeneca-linked blood clot confirmed in Alberta

A case of an AstraZeneca-linked blood clot has been confirmed in Alberta,… Continue reading

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees selected the name St. Lorenzo Ruiz Middle School to be built in the north end of Red Deer. (Photo Courtesy of  Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools)
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raises about $8,720 for Terry Fox Foundation

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools raised about $8,720 for the Terry Fox… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Alberta declines Ontario’s request to send health-care workers

Alberta is “not in a position” to send health-care workers out of… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Ontario Premier Doug Ford points on a COVID-19 caseload projection model graph during a press conference at Queen's Park, in Toronto, Friday, April 16, 2021. Ontario was set to backtrack on controversial new police powers to enforce stay-at-home orders implemented in the battle against COVID-19.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ford backtracks on new police COVID-19 powers amid intense backlash

TORONTO — Furious criticism of new anti-pandemic powers that allow police in… Continue reading

The official program for the National Commemorative Ceremony in honour of Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, sits on an empty pew prior to the ceremony at Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa on Saturday, April 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prince Philip remembered as ‘a man of great service’ during Canada’s memorial service

Canada’s commemorative ceremony in honour of the late Prince Philip offered a… Continue reading

CF Montreal head coach Wilfried Nancy speaks to his players during the team's practice Tuesday, March 16, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
CF Montreal puts on a show, defeating Toronto FC 4-2 in MLS season opener

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — CF Montreal, carving open Toronto FC’s defence, cruised… Continue reading

Demonstrators using umbrellas as shields approach a point in a perimeter security fence during a protest over the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, Friday, April 16, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Journalists allege police harassment at Minnesota protests

Some journalists covering protests over the police fatal shooting of Daunte Wright,… Continue reading

A container ship is docked in the Port of Montreal, Wednesday, February 17, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Montreal dockworkers begin weekend strikes as talks drag on

MONTREAL — Dockworkers at the Port of Montreal kicked off a series… Continue reading

Brad Dahr, 53, is facing numerous charges. (Photo contributed by Alberta RCMP)
Alberta man charged for alleged sexual offences against children

An Edmonton man has been charged for alleged sexual offences against children… Continue reading

A person walks past a COVID-19 mural designed by artist Emily May Rose on a rainy day during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, April 12, 2021. Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off the job or coming into work while knowingly sick could warrant discipline in the workplace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Risky pandemic behaviour off the clock could mean workplace discipline: lawyers

CALGARY — Employment lawyers say flouting COVID-19 public health orders when off… Continue reading

Vials containing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for COVID-19 are seen at the San Marino State Hospital, in San Marino, Friday, April 9, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Antonio Calanni
China, Russia using their COVID-19 vaccines to gain political influence

OTTAWA — China and Russia have been using their locally produced COVID-19… Continue reading

Most Read