It will take voters working with and pushing politicians if tougher laws are deemed necessary to curb impaired driving, relatives of a young teen killed on Canada Day said on Monday.
Pongsavane Praseutsith and Samantha Chanminaraj, cousins of Anouluck “Jeffrey” Chanminaraj, 13, said if people want to change the laws they have to first get well acquainted with them before pushing elected members to make changes.
“We first have to respect the system we have and work to understand it better if we want change,” said Praseutsith, who made it clear he was speaking for himself and not the family in general.
He said people must work together to try to prevent or at least reduce needless deaths caused by impaired drivers.
Jeffrey died when a pickup truck collided with a small car he was a passenger in while driving to the Canada Day fireworks at Bower Ponds.
An older brother had to be flown by STARS air ambulance to Calgary and the driver of the small car had to spend a night at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre as a result of the crash.
Samantha agreed that the laws surrounding impaired driving are perhaps the most recognizable in Canada.
However, she feared that some people may tune out advertising about the evils and possible results of impaired driving.
“People are almost desensitized” by all the advertising, she said.
Praseutsith said laws are in place now and unless they are changed then that’s what the justice system has to work with.
He said when these types of cases come to court there’s always a great deal of emotion not only for the victim’s families and loved ones but for the accused.
Jeffrey was from a family of about 40 cousins, said Praseutsith, who recently returned to Red Deer to run a business with his brother after training and practising law in Australia.
He said the courts have to work with the current laws and hand out sentences that fit the case before the judge.
“Sure the victim’s family want blood” but the courts have to deal with all the facts, Praseutsith said.
Samantha said the family continues dealing with the tragedy and will do so for some time.
“Whenever we’re doing something someone might say Jeffrey liked that or he would do this.”