Marilyn Rinas, president of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Red Deer chapter, holds a candle at the 27th annual Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Remembrance at St. Luke’s Anglican Church. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Marilyn Rinas, president of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving Red Deer chapter, holds a candle at the 27th annual Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Remembrance at St. Luke’s Anglican Church. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

WATCH: MADD candlelight vigil in Red Deer honours those killed in impaired driving collisions

It’s been nearly seven years since Marilyn Rinas lost her husband to a collision involving a drunk driver.

But she is “still struggling to find a new normal,” Rinas said at the 27th annual Mothers Against Drunk Driving Candlelight Vigil of Hope and Remembrance in Red Deer on Saturday evening.

“After (my husband) Wayne was killed, my heart was broken. My chest hurt so bad, I thought I was having a heart attack. I walked around the next several months like a zombie,” she said to the 30 or so people attending the event.

“For a very long period of time, I didn’t want to drive. Psychologically, I thought everyone had been drinking and driving. I avoided Highway 22, where Wayne was killed, for a very long time by making alternate routes or excuses to not go out at all.”

Rinas’s husband was killed when he was struck by a drunk driver in a head-on collision at 6:30 a.m. in June 2013.

Drinking and driving is a “senseless, 100 per cent preventable act,” said Rinas, who is the president of the MADD Red Deer chapter.

“Through the MADD chapter … we’re trying to make people aware of how this crime can be prevented and giving alternatives for people … like having a designated driver, using Uber or using a taxi.

“Anything that prevents people from getting behind the wheel when drinking,” she said.

The vigil gave people the opportunity to pay their respects to their loved ones who were killed in impaired driving crashes.

MADD volunteer Joan McIntyre said she is not a direct victim of an impaired driving crash, but understands it’s an incredibly difficult experience for families and friends.

“It’s hard watching these people be victims and their loved ones be killed by impaired drivers, knowing that it’s 100 per cent preventable,” said McIntyre.

“When they tell their stories, it’s very heart-wrenching, whether they’ve lost a husband, child or grandchild. It just really hits home.”

The vigil is purposely held a month before Christmas, McIntyre added.

“Any holidays are hard for people who have lost someone. This is a time to remember … and light a candle,” she said.

“If you drink and drive, it’s wrong. If you’re going to drink, that’s fine. We are not an organization against drinking. We’re an organization that wants to get people to stop drinking and driving.

“When you’re behind the wheel, you have a responsibility.”

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