The sentencing Wednesday of a drunk driver who killed her daughter and son-in-law is just one step in Sandra Green’s fight to convince Canadians and politicians tougher sentences are needed to curb drunk driving killers.
Chad Mitchell Olsen, 24, of Sedalia, was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for the Feb. 7, 2010, deaths of Krista and Brad Howe.
The crash prompted Green, Krista’s mother, to ask Prime Minister Stephen Harper for automatic jail terms for drunk drivers. Harper replied last year that such deaths are a reminder that Ottawa must consider taking further steps to discourage impaired driving.
Green said provincial court Judge Thomas Schollie’s sentence failed to send a message.
“He’s the judge. He has the final say at the end of the day. He didn’t exercise his right as a judge or his option to do something that would make a difference.
“That (sentence) will make no difference,” she added.
Green insisted outside Red Deer provincial court that drunk driving killers are murderers.
Green said that Olsen’s apology was the first “syllable” her family has heard from the accused.
“He (Olsen) is not the one we have to worry about. We have to worry about people who read this and see that he got two years and three months for killing two people. He was three times over (legal alcohol-blood) level), he ran a red light and he’s got a prior driving record (nine speeding and seven other traffic tickets).
“Big deal. Those are the ones we need to reach who haven’t killed anyone yet.”
“Our sentence is for life.”
She said history shows Olsen will be out of jail before the year is up. Green said she is off to Toronto this weekend to lobby politicians about her “crusade or quest” to change drunk driving laws.
Green said Olsen’s apology showed he was sorry.
“I hope he does something with it.
“I fervently hope that he will speak to people who could be him. Who wants to be him?”
“Our system fails everybody . . . offender and victim,” Green added.
Just before sentencing the court heard more than a dozen victim impact statements from the Howes’ friends and family including the two youngest children, Molly and Maggie of Brad and Krista.
Green, who read the children’s statements said Molly asked her deceased parents, “How is heaven? I miss you a lot.”
One of the little girls asked during a plane ride if her parents could see her when they rose into the clouds because they were close to heaven.
Other family members and friends spoke of immense grief, sadness, broken hearts, loss of sleep and the emptiness that accompanies them every day.
Mark Howe, Brad’s cousin, said the day he heard the news was the worst of his life.
He had to identify the bodies and also helped in breaking the news to the children a few hours after the crash.
The couple’s five children are being cared for by Krista’s sister Karla Green, who left her $80,000 a year job, friends and lifestyle to come and take care of the children aged 5, 8, 10, 11 and 15 now.
“Karla is an amazing, awesome, selfless daughter and the rest of our children are helpful too,” said Green who has six children.
Karla said she has always been frank with questions from the children.
“I’ll tell them he (Olsen) is going to jail but he might not stay in jail for as long as he’s told to go.”
Karla said she felt sad for Olsen but he had many chances considering his three driving suspensions for 16 tickets in five years.
“He made the choice for where he is and where we are,” Karla said.